Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

December 1, 2012

Permaculture Course - Video 5

Hi again... For all my friends in the US, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I took the last couple of weeks off to complete a couple of house projects that we needed to get done before having out 15 guests over for the Thanksgiving holiday. I did watch video 5 however, and a few others as well, and have begun video 6 so I guess I best get caught up with this reviewing process. This lecture was about Trees and Forests and their impact.

Dr Hooker first started off with a talk about Biomes, as discussed in the last lecture. He showed an illustration of the worlds biomes that I found really interesting. It was a little different than this one from the USDA but the information is essentially the same.

I found it really interesting to see how the same biomes are repeated around the world. I think it's a good tool to think about as we plan our garden designs to think about the foods and plants that are grown in the similar biomes to our own in the different parts of the world. Because of these differences between the various biomes, Dr hooker makes the very valid point of saying wherever you are, or end up starting your garden, take a permaculture class in that region as it will have the most pertinent information for you. This biome difference got me thinking about trees that I could plant on my own land that I could use for food, fuel and soil enrichment.

Trees are like the lungs of the earth. As they respire, they add oxygen to the atmosphere, but even more they transpire water that has been pulled up from the deep soil. That water adds to the atmosphere as well and has a measurable influence on the hydrologic (precipitation) cycle as well. In addition to this, Trees in our garden, create predictable and stable micro climates by shading the soil, breaking the wind and, depending on the type of species (Leguminous), can add fertility as well. Also, as I mentioned in passing earlier, they can obviously provide food in a completely different vertical arena than our low growing annual vegetables and can provide renewable fuel as well.

"Trees are,for the earth, the ultimate translators and moderators or incoming energy." ~Bill Mollison
Trees can create edgse in our gardens. As they capture energy (Sunlight, wind) they provide safe places for different species to take hold. Capturing wind driven seed, providing a place where both sunlight and shade meet allow for greater bio-diversity than monoculture areas. As the leaves drop and decay over time, trees also help build soil by creating a thick blanket of mulch below them.

Not only do trees provide benefits for our gardens, but for our homesteads as well. By having trees around our homes we can help keep our home temperatures more moderated from the outside temperatures. The shade and evapo-transfer of water through the trees leaves dissipate heat in the heat of the day. Conversely, In the winter months, trees can help to hold heat closer to the house by capturing it under it's branches and holding it close to the soil.

This was not a hugely information dense lecture, but one I know I will keep in mind as I move forward with my farm plan. I look forward to the next lecture on design and site analysis. Assignments for Next week... (Lecture 7/8) is Gaia's garden chapter 3.

And I leave you with these words from Rosemary Morrow, _Earth Users Guide to Permaculture 2nd Edit_~ A forest cannot be precisely measured or costed. Neither can its destruction. However, we do know that removing forests results in water loss, nutrient loss, soil loss, salinity problems, river flooding, local drought, habitat loss and destabilizing the climate. How do we cost these?

November 14, 2012

Great new Geoff Lawton Video

Let me just take a minute to share with you a link to an amazing new Permaculture video that Permaculture Guru Geoff Lawton has made available just recently.

Geoff Lawton, if you're not familiar with him is a truly inspirational permaculture figure that in my book ranks right up there with Mollison and Holmgren. His work in greening the desert was nothing short of amazing. Search for it on YouTube.. really.. it's a miracle garden.

If you've been checking in for the permculture updates, take a detour and watch this video. You'll be anxiously waiting for the next installment I have no doubt.

November 10, 2012

Permaculture Course - Video 4

Short run down on this video. It was one that, while it had a lot of good information, I didn't feel like an of it was really new stuff, mostly it was an opportunity for the instructor to garner a little "street cred" by showing off his personal garden and it's progression through their time there.

That said, it wasn't in anyway a brag fest or anything, and it gave the instructor a good opportunity to go over some of the ideas of permaculture, along with his personal take about it, in a visual form. Interestingly, it turns out that pretty much all the pictures on the cover of the latest publication of the Gais Garden book that's out are from Dr Hooker's house. He has been involved in permaculture for a number of years and has apparently become good friends with a number of the "big boys" of permaculture around the world.

As I said, not a lot to report on this video, it was enjoyable if a little light on new information. Next class promises to be interesting though, Homework assignment is to read chapter 10 in Gaia's Garden, which is all about Food Forests, And to watch _The End of Suburbia_. I've done both and I'm ready for the next class.

Just out of curiousity... anyone getting anything from these reviews? Better yet, anyone going through them as well?


November 6, 2012

Permaculture Course - Video 3

Well, it's been a little over a week since the last post and I've been hard at this course I'm trying to work through. As I get into it, I am beginning to think that this whole course, if it continues as it has been, will likely take me nearly a year! There is so much information to absorb and I've been making the additional effort to complete assignments that were given to the class as best I can as well. I am thoroughly enjoying every bit of it though and it has me thinking non stop about the future of our new home-scale farm. And speaking of the new farm, I've been trying to think of a name for it; all farms need a title right? I was trying to think of something I liked just out of thin air, but just didn't seem inspired by anything. I thought it would be best to just wait until the land whispered in my ear a little and hinted at her name. I'm not sure I'm hearing correctly, but I'm getting something about the two foxes that call her home. Maybe Two-foxes Farm? Foxwood Farm? I don't know... any thoughts?

OK, enough small talk... let's get to Permaculture!!
This Video installment was the third video, and the first half of the Second lecture and it was also full of information. Homework assignments for this were to watch _In Danger of Falling Food_ with Bill Mollison on YouTube and to read the first two chapters in _Gaias Garden_ by Toby Hemenway. The Former was very interesting, if not a bit dated and a little cheesy, and the latter is shaping up to be a real favorite. First off, this lecture talked about Permaculture as a way of thinking. Dr Hooker says that while many people take the principles of Permaculture as pure "gospel", that we shouldn't. There are pieces in it for everyone. Take what you can incorporate and keep it's principles in mind as a way of looking at the world as you design your gardens and farms. Originally conceived in Australia, Permaculture traditionally looks at things through the lens of "forest gardens" or "food forests", but as the principles have spread throughout the world, it has found that within each biome, or climatic region, there are plant/animal/human relationships that meet the permaculture principles.

Garden Ecology: Ecos - from the Greek for "house" and ology from the Greek for "to study". Ecology is the study of the relationships that the living organisms within an environment have with each other. These relationships and these organisms, best estimates put that at around 30 million species, only exists withing the earths biosphere. That's a term I've heard and I pretty much understand, but the professor makes a really good point when he talks about how large it may seem to us, but in relation to the whole earth it is but a mere sliver of life that we have to live on. It makes you think.

One of the homework assignments, as I mentioned, was reading through chapter 2 in Gaia's Garden. I've really, really enjoyed it so far and intend to, as I have time available, finish the whole book. The author, Toby Hemenway, uses wonderful analogies to make points about typical gardening techniques and how, although they are rooted in well meaning and came from legitimate problems that were trying to be solved, go so completely against what nature has in mind for the earth. We are, in effect, fighting nature at every turn. A couple of good examples of this are weeds and natural succession. Weeds it seems, and I think we can all see this, are natures pioneer species. When the earth is disturbed, and particularly when it is laid bare, weeds are sent in like they were the front line troops in a fight against the elements. They cover ground quickly, prevent over drying of the soil, hold soil fast against erosion and creating a bio-rich area for future plants to move into. The more we weed, clear and till our land, we are asking for weeds to show up. I thought about what my Master Gardener instructor had told us about pruning fruit trees. We think of pruning as saying "don't grow here, don't grow here and don't grow here..." The tree hears "Grow here, grow here and grow here..." We need to get our language on the same page. As for natural succession, nature first covers ground in weeds and grasses or, as she sees them... pioneers. Their deep roots bring minerals and nutrients to the surface, hold moisture and when they die they build fertility in the soil for larger more permanent plants to move in. In our typical suburban yards, we have essentially created young landscapes of grasses lined with "forrest areas" of larger more decorative plants or trees. Then, as the soil fertility builds and tries to allow the tree roots to take hold or new larger plants to move in... "weeds"... we use chemicals or machines to artificially return it to a youthful state, i.e. grass. It's a never ending cycle because we are feeding the grasses and making them do what they do, and then when they try to pass on to the next succession, we beat them back again. Madness!!

The lecture took great divergences into the trophic levels and an actually pretty interesting bit of theory on the relationship of faith (theology) and our place in a position outside the trophic levels that I thought made a good point in basically saying that if we see ourselves as masters of the word and outside of the cycles of the natural world it is much easier for us to manipulate it because it becomes in essence just "materials".  We need to re-integrate ourselves into that natural cycle.

Finally the lecture wrapped up talking about energy flows; the way that embodied energy flows from our only true power source... the sun... into everything on earth. I had never heard the term embodied energy before, but it makes sense to me. In everything we touch, eat, consume, or in how we travel around there is a certain level of energy embodied in that object or action. Permaculture teaches that as designers we should base designs on maximizing this energy by using it from the highest point down the ladder so that all energy is used productively and not wasted. Just as light moves through the forest canopy; much is taken up front by the canopy trees, what remains moves down to the lower shrub and small tree layer - the plants that can only tolerate partial sunlight - and finally what little ambient light remains goes into those shade loving plants that live in the understory and thrive in that shadiness. At each level a different piece of the energy is used. This maximizes the productivity and efficiency of the forest and it's a way of thinking about energy use that can help us to become more efficient and lower consumers as well.

The last piece from this lecture that I will pass on is his "Tricks for Creating Ecological Gardens":
  • Soil Building
  • Perennials - vs- Annuals
  • Multiple Stories
  • Plant Communities "Guilds"
  • Stacking Functions
It was a great lecture and I look forward to sharing the next one too. I also look forward to more comments from you on your experiences and thoughts.

October 23, 2012

Permaculture course Video 2

I've watched a second video in the Permaculture series and it was great! After the slow start of all the class business that needed to be covered the instructor, Dr. Hooker, really just jumped right into the thick of things. After giving an idea of why he feels permaculture, and more specifically sustainability, is important now he got into some of the big ideas.

Dr Hooker first off spent a bit of time talking about cycles and the "systems" that we live in. One of the main ideas of permaculture is learning to design systems. Understanding our part in those systems and designing accordingly. Currently most people live in a cycle that takes resources from one place, changes it (manufacturing), and then disposes of it into some sort of "sink" or landfill essentially. That isn't a cyclical system, it's a pattern of consumption. A system, at least from what I got from it, takes into account the different ways that a resource can be used, reused, then redirected into the next system that may build upon it. There is no waste in nature.

He also spent a bit of time talking about the Gaia theory. I have not done a lot of reading on this - it's on my list - but I do subscribe to it from what I understand of it. During his talk on the Gaia theory he made an interesting comment. In talking about our beliefs and how many, most actually, are of the "When I see it I'll believe it" mindset, he decided some time back that he would take the opposite path and believe it, and see what he sees. That belief changes your perspective; I liked that. Take this challenge that he gave as an assignment. This week, believe that the earth is a living, sentient being, then see what you see while walking around on this living being... It's an interesting way of looking at things.

The final part of this lecture was just sort of covering the main differences between the Basic Principles of the permaculture "founders" Bill Mollison and David Holmgrens, as well as his own "list" of permaculture principles that he's distilled on his own from what he has learned from both of these men as well as from others. I thought I'd list the principles here for our reference.

Bill Mollison's Permaculture Principles:
  1. Relative location
  2. Each element performs many functions
  3. Each important function is supported by many elements
  4. Efficient energy planning
  5. Using biological resources
  6. Energy cycling
  7. Small scale intensive systems
  8. Accelerating succession and evolution
  9. Diversity
  10. Edge Effects
Dvid Holmgren's Permaculture Principles:
  1. Observe and interact
  2. Catch and store energy
  3. Obtain a yield
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services.
  6. Produce no waste
  7. Design from pattern to details
  8. Integrate rather than segregate
  9. Use small and slow solutions
  10. Use and value diversity
  11. Use edges and value the marginal
  12. Creatively use and respond to change
Dr Hookers Permaculture Principles:
  1. Observe and interact
  2. Relative location or connections
  3. Energy cycling
  4. Each element performs many functions
  5. Each function is supported by many elements
  6. Efficient energy planning
  7. Small scale intensive systems
  8. Use edges and value the marginal
  9. Accelerate succession and evolution
  10. Use and value diversity
  11. Using biological resources
Dr. Hookers list is, as you can see, basically a mash up of the two different ideas, but I think it's genuinely a good mash up. The last half of this lecture Dr hooker went into details of the different principles on his list. If you'd like, I can go more into those details, but honestly if permaculture is something that you're interested in implementing in your yard, homestead or garden I heartily encourage you to watch this video installment.
As I said, if you'd like me to go into more detail on the principles I'd be happy to, but I don't think I would do it justice in just a blog post, plus I don't know how much interest there is in hearing my opinions of it anyway. If you are working on implementing permaculture principles and would like to share an of your information, please do so. If you have questions or comments, I'd love to hear them. Ultimately the greater the discussion we can generate, hopefully the better we can all learn to understand this intricate and complex philosophy.
Till next installment.

October 17, 2012

Permaculture course - Video 1

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been really leaning towards taking a more permaculture-centric approach in the development of our new property. I know that I want to develop the property into a home scale agricultural business in some way, most likely by becoming providers to the local foods purveyors and farmers markets in our area, but quite possibly in other ways not yet defined. At the same time, I have a full time job and have no immediate plans to leave it, so anything that I do will need to be very sustainable as it moves forward. I hope that my investigation into permaculture techniques will help me as I work this year to develop a plan to move forward towards that goal to find ways of maximizing my work flow, providing for sustainable progress and bountiful yields in our future.
This past weekend, I watched the first of the 38 full length videos provided online by the Permaculture Media Blog. (By the way, I also noticed that the University of North Carolina who was responsible for creating the videos in the first place has them streamable online as well, although they do list these course videos as only for the use of students enrolled in the course so... I will henceforth not be "disseminating" the video materials that I found by googling "permaculture media blog 40 hr course" by linking to them unless I am able to find out that they are in fact free to be shared)
Anyway, the first video was, since it is basically a video of a college course, basically a preface of the class materials, an introduction to the professor, Dr. Will Hooker, and a little bit of class business that really doesn't apply in this situation. I have begun the second video and it really goes into more of the principles behind permaculture design. I won't go too much into it, but it looks like this will really be an informative journey.
I look forward to finishing the next video soon and breaking down my impressions for you.
Till next time...

October 9, 2012

Beginning a Permaculture Investigation

Although I have not, and by all accounts will not, do much work on our new "Homescale Farm" this year. I still continue to focus a lot of back burner brain power on what it is that I'd like to do with it. More and more that brain power is pointing me in the direction of permaculture as the direction I'd like to at least focus my attentions. To that end, I've decided to go through a collegiate permaculture course via the internet in the hope that I can gain a more full understanding of it, as well as to hopefully begin to formulate some ideas about what, where and how I'd like to proceed on the back few acres.

The courses (link that I found by googling "permaculture media blog 40 hr course" has been removed so as not to further "disseminate" video materials) I have found and will be viewing were placed online by the Permaculture Media Blog. They have a full 40 hr lecture course that is on line in high resolution  videos. I'm going to go through them one at a time in the hopes of, as I said, gaining a better understanding of what permaculture really means, and how it can apply to us on our piece of earth.

I'm thinking right now that I'm going to go ahead an review - no, let me rephrase that, recap - the class lectures as I complete them in case you are interested, but primarily for my own reference.
If you'd like to follow along, or even participate, perhaps we can create a venue for some friendly debate and discussion. Let me know if any one's interested at all and we'll see if we can schedule something.

Either way, I look forward to it. I feel like it will be a good use of my winter free time, what free time I'll have that is with still having to finish my basement... busy busy...

Hope all is well with you all and I look forward to hearing from you.
Paul ~

October 2, 2012

Gardener: Ancient term for "bad hunter"

Could the word "Gardener" just be an old name given to the "bad hunter" of the tribe? Sort of an ancient way of saying "don't quit your day job"? Maybe, maybe not. But I am starting to wonder. The last couple of years I have gone up on the deer hunt in our local mountains and I have actively hunted. When I say I actively hunted, I mean that I didn't just drive around in my truck looking through binoculars off the side of the road; I hiked, hiked, sat patiently, hiked some more and then hiked back. I covered a lot of ground, much of it up or down hill and found a lot of deer. However, I continue to only see does (a deer, a female deer...) and no bucks. So I find myself having to wonder, A: Has the UT department of wildlife resources dramatically screwed up on their buck to doe ratio counts? or B. Do I just suck as a hunter?

Now obviously I prefer to not think that I am a terrible hunter. I truly do put in the effort when I hunt, but this is getting pretty ridiculous!? I think for the foreseeable future, I am going to restrict myself to small game and fish. (With the exception of course of this year when two of my boys will be going hunting later in the month.) The cost in time and money to continue to participate in a fruitless venture is just not OK with me. I hate to say it, but I really think that our deer herds are being terribly mismanaged at this point and I don't need to keep feeding that beast so to speak. I say that because I was just in the mountains for five days, hiking and actively hunting for at least 7 hours a day and between myself and the friend that I went with we saw one buck deer and it was only a yearling "spike" deer. A very immature buck. In talking with others up there the only deer we heard of anyone shooting was the same, a young spike deer. I know obviously others did get nice bucks I'm sure, but I have to wonder what is happening to the genetics of the herd when spike deer are what people are settling for because they see no others. It worries me.

Anyway, stepping off my excuse soapbox for just a minute, I can say that regardless of all that I still had a great time hunting. I was able to hike many miles in some of the most beautiful country I know of, see eagles fly, watch a family of moose heading down the road and listen to and witness the amazing North American Elk bugle echoing through the canyons. I watched the moon rise over sagebrush meadows and the sun set from 9000 foot mountain tops! I took a few photos, just a few but I thought I'd share of course!
 The family of Moose that I came across on my way up to camp. Was raining like heck on the way up, but overall wasn't too bad throughout the week.

 The aspens were in peak color all week. Like splashed of gold on the dark green timber backdrop.

 Sometimes you just come across something cool looking. A dead tree still clinging to its rocky perch like some lone sentinel. I love these old relics.

 Or the remains of an old fence line that once marked some property or cattle area.

But few things beat sitting on a hillside, glassing for deer and watching the full moon rise over sagebrush meadows. Brought to mind a great Chris Ledoux lyric...
"There's a full moon rising... on the prairie sky tonight..."

Anyway... I've still never had a bad year hunting... but really, it's getting frustrating.
Next year... Next year will probably be better!

September 24, 2012

Muzzleloader deer

So Wednesday morning begins the season for muzzleloader deer in Utah and I have a tag this year. It's the first time that I will be trying it out. Not hunting, but hunting with a muzzleloader. It will seriously limit my range and I will most likely only get 1 shot at any one deer.

I decided after a number of years of hunting the general rifle deer season in Utah that unless I was going to either buy a large piece of private land, or spend a ridiculous amount of time and effort hiking, scouting and generally obsessing over deer that I needed to try a different hunt time. With any luck I should be able to see a few bucks this season as they haven't been hunted for two months straight yet and should hopefully not be overly gun shy.

I'll head up tomorrow and spend the night in my GI standard issue canvas pup tent that I have left from my ARMY days. It'll be cold but not terrible. The next few nights I have a friend that's coming up in his travel trailer and has room for me so... lucky me!

I'll be keeping my eyes out for a few blue Grouse as well. from what I've heard this is a bumper year for them. we'll see.

I'd be pretty happy to have some all natural venison to eat over the winter so wish me luck!

September 20, 2012

I married a smart Ass!

 Yep, I married a smart ass. Well OK, to be fair, I probably CREATED a smart ass... but hey, the potential had to have been there right?
Today she was digging through the .50 cent bin at the store and found this gem that she of course felt I haaaaaddd to have for my evening relaxation... It is after all the "Ultimate in Relaxation".
 How could anyone in their right mind pass up a description like that anyways?!
"The crowing of the rooster welcomes the awakening of a brand new day... "
So cheezy!

You know what the funniest thing is though? We put it on to hear what it was and it is literally the sound of a farm. Cows bellowing, and roosters crowing... You can hear the farmer walking around digging grain out of a metal container and chicks clucking... And we knew exactly what all the sounds were.LOL
Oh man. You know some guy in New York City is listening to this baby and just eatin up every second of it. Not to bag on NY.
Watch for sounds for this baby to work their way in somewhere on this... or maybe some other site...
"Let the stress of modern living dissolve to the sounds of Farm Life"... still cracks me up!
Take care all~

September 19, 2012

New house progress (photo blitz)

Since we moved in on the first of June, there's been a ton of goings on around the new place. As you can tell the outside of the house, which was built in 1969, has had significant updating and doesn't look its age.

On the inside, besides the colors being kinda funky, the kitchen was pretty small. not very much counter space, and keep in mind, on the left side of this picture is where the fridge is supposed to be and would stick out two feet into the kitchen. It would have been tight.

That's why we decided to gut it and start from scratch. We intend to be in this home for the foreseeable future, like till we're too old to keep up with it, so we felt a total kitchen do over was warranted now rather than once we were living in it already.

Below you can see where the left side wall has been re-engineered into a recessed wall nook where cabinets and a fridge will now be INSIDE the walls rather than sticking out into the kitchen. Because of full span ceiling trusses we were able to really have some flexibility with design.

We loved out oak flooring so much in our last house that we went ahead and installed it in this new kitchen as well. The yellow hose you see in the middle of the floor is the new gas line drop that we had installed, the only contract work we hired out for by the way. This process had us moving gas lines, running new 220 outlets for the oven and new water lines for a fridge. It was a pretty comprehensive overhaul.

We were lucky because under the carpet was an original oak flooring that we could tie into. As coincidence would have it, it had been milled by the same millworks as the new flooring we found! weird huh?

After some serious sanding the differnce between the old and new had vanished!

As of last week. The kitchen is finished. We installed an IKEA kitchen and loved the results. The backsplash is tile, our first attempt at it and A~ is already making plans for a new bathtub surround.

The wall with the built in fridge, Oven and that top thing is a microwave.

We love our giant "Farm Sink"

The bar side of the kitchen with gas cook top.

In the living room, A~ painted and repurposed a credenza from a thrift store and matched it with great new buys for a pretty damn good looking room if I do say so. This is the view from the front door.

View from the dining area adjacent to the kitchen.

This is the view of our property from our bedroom window. The play house is gone now too. Our 2.6 acres goes pretty much all the way back to the treeline you can see on the horizon.

Here's the pasture. The barn on the right is the same small one from middle of the picture above.
The field is planted in a pasture grass that for this year at least I am letting my neighbor harvest for his horses. Building bridges!

This is our Russian olive that's at almose the back of the pasture. We want to make a nice get away sitting area out here at some point to just enjoy being away from stuff and to appreciate the great views.

And  speaking of great views. This is one of my favorite. Taken from our covered porch after a stormy day had cleared and the colors were intense! This is my new happy place!

Well, a picture says a thousand words so... there's about 18000 for you! Hope you like. Talk to you again soon!

September 13, 2012

We're alive... ALIVE!!!

I have so much bringing up to date that needs to happen that it's absolutely ridiculous. If you're one of the few that follows me on facebook you might have some small idea of the chaos that we managed to insert ourselves into, otherwise... ugh.. where to start?!

Late last year, my wife A~ and I decided to put our house on the market when spring rolled around, and see what came of it. Well, what came of it was that we listed it on Feb 1st, and it managed to sell in exactly one month. Then we found ourselves contractually obligated to be out of the house by the end of March. During that time, we managed to find a wonderful house, that met 95% of everything we had identified as wanting in a new long-term home and made an offer. After some negotiations, we had an offer accepted and were scheduled to take ownership at the end of April, which left us in a temporary housing situation in an apartment. We would be able to be out of our temporary apartment and into the new home by the end of June. Because there were a number of small issues with the new house, crack in foundation that had a seasonal leak, outdated kitchen with really really funky countertops, leak in roof and just general outdatedness, we tackled a pretty significant remodel project on the inside of the place which left us pressed for time since I essentially gutted the entire kitchen down to studs and subfloor. We figured as long as I could have the kitchen completed, or close to completed by the time we moved in we would be alright. Well, we almost made it...

We did manage to have the majority of the kitchen framed and drywalled before we moved in and had started the process of building up our IKEA kitchen abinets. Let me take a moment to call BULLSHIT on anyone who says you can assemble an IKEA kitchen in a weekend! It did go together fairly easily, but took a ton of time and a number of calls to their service and support center before the kitchen was even functional, let alone completed. In the mean time, while I spent my nights working on a little project here or a little project there to finish the kitchen off, A~ busted her butt getting the rest of the main living areas functional and actually pretty damn nice looking. We still have a tone of work to do, but so far it still remains a labor of love.

As far as the yard and garden are concerned, I really have little to nothing to report other than it has been in my mind constantly. I plan to spend a lot of this upcoming winter plotting and planning the future iterations of the farm and how I hope to see it go forward. For now though, I have pretty regular discussions with myself as to what it is that I would like to see back there. It's fun to have enough land (2.6 ac) to really get to think about all the fun projects and long term goals that can be potentially accomplished.

Finally, the reason I can say definitively that I am back is because for the first time since March, we again have an internet connection in our home. Yes, you heard that right, the last nearly six months we managed to exist with no in house internet. It honestly wasn't too bad other than a few research problems I had when it came to some commisioned writing, but we managed to get by with phone data and local free wi-fi hotspots. Now though, now we're back on line and I have a TON of stuff going on and I'm excited again to be writing. I know there's still a few of you out there who drop by from time to time, and I still seem to pop up on the search pages so with any luck we can pick up where we left off and keep on growing the possibilities together.

Hope you are all well and have been much blessed since last we chatted.
Paul Gardener.

July 3, 2012

The chaos that is our happy home

Well, as best as I can manage, I thought it was about time for an update.

Since last post, we have mostly gutted our basement and kitchen areas, have at least partially rebuilt the kitchen and have managed to move into the new house. Because half the house is not yet finished, that half of our stuff is piled basically on top of all of our other stuff. This lends to a general aire of chaos around the place. In addition to this, part of the house that is not yet finished is the kitchen, which makes it kind of hard to put all of your pots, pans and food away, so now add those items on top of the other stuff, you know so you can get to them easier, and you have a good idea of our living room decor. Of course I say this somewhat tongue in cheek, but quite honestly, it's not really an exaggeration. On the upside, tomorrow I will have completed half the counter top, and will have running water in the kitchen so that will make it immenently easier to cook and wash up which will do wonders for both our morale and our diets which have consisted of waaay to much eating out for the last month.

I have to take a moment to praise my two younger sons who have been the very best of sports about everything since we moved in. Did I mention that we have no A/C or swamp cooler? Yep, we've been pushing through the heat wave with just fans and passive cooling. There are a few miserable hours of the day, but overall we're getting by. I'll go more into how that's possible when I have more time and can more easily upload photos (I'm still updating via cell phone), but suffice it to say that the house was well built.

Despite all the trials so far, we all are very happy with our new home so far. Our neighbors are very nice and are happy to have new neighbors since the house had been vacant for nearly 18 months. One has a couple of old tractors and it looks like he's going to let be buy one from him for a good price.

It's the things like this evening, when I had driven the truck into the back field to unload a shed with the boys, then afterwards we just sat on the tailgate drinking some water, watched the sunset and talked about how this will always be our view.
Things are good... Chaotic yes, but good. Besides I was getting a little bored with everything being basically done....
Ha! You won't hear that complaint for along time to come.
Till next time...

May 9, 2012

Bare minimum connection

Just a real quick note, mainly because it was pointed out to me that I had not been keeping up with my comment moderation - I know you didn't mean to call me out, thanks for keeping me honest though! - and I thought I should take two seconds to explain myself..

Since we are currently ”in transit” and living in a small apartment for a few months, we decided to simply put many of our services, such as tv and internet, on hold rather then paying to move them twice. As such, everything you see from me, whether it be a facebook post or a blog entry, is coming to you via Android phone. It's kind of a pain to do some things, moderation included, on the phone so I tend to fall as little behind. Also, I can't stand my blog formatting, but hey... some info is better than none right!?
Bear with me please... We'll get there!
Best to you all... Hope your spring (or fall for my Aussie friends) is going well.

Update on remodel

Well, I figure it's about time for an update...

We closed on our new home, I like to call it our new ”farm” but since we're not really living there, nor growing anything there it's kind of premature I suppose. Anyway, we closed on it on the 25th of April, and started the process of gutting and remodeling the inside on the 30th. It's been one week since and we've made great progress!

The two main areas that we needed to focus on were the kitchen and the downstairs living area. The kitchen because it was just out of date (and had a horrendous clear acrylic with gravel inlaid countertop) and we needed/wanted more room. The downstairs living area because there had been some moisture damage, the walls were covered with circa 1969 wood paneling, and because the flow of the space was not very good in general.

To this point, all the tearing out has been completed and everything going forward is construction. I'll have to post more details as we go, but here are a couple of pre and post tear out photos.

April 11, 2012

Permaculture... The way to go?

As you can imagine, even though we have not taken ownership of our new house, I could keep my mind from working on plans, or at least ideas for plans, for the 2+ new acres of land I will be taking stewardship of for only so long. For the last week or so I've been really trying to be honest with myself about what it is that I'd like to accomplish with this opportunity and how I want to work toward accomplishing it. I've not yet hammered out a specific ” mission statement” or anything, at least not so far, but I've really been giving the idea of permaculture and specifically some sort of permaculture food forest a lot of thought.
Some of the realities I am dealing with are:
1. I want to make my new home-scale farm a profitable venture.
2. For the foreseeable future, I will need to maintain a ”day job” in order to cover our day to day expenses. It's just a fact, may as well wrap my head around it.
3. I have maturing family. I don't mean that we're getting old, (although trust me, some days...ugh) but rather that my kids are growing up. I only have so many more years to enjoy them and I intend to take advantage of those. Also, as they grow up and find their own ways out into the world, I lose a valuable labor pool from which to draw.
4. As much as I love gardening and raising animals, I also love enjoying life. That's shorthand for ”I don't want this project to take over every spare minute of every day.”

Those are potentially big hurdles to get by and still have a productive home-scale farm and they're a big part of the reason that I'm leaning in the direction of some kind of a permaculture solution. From what I have read and in my experiences so far, finding a balance with the natural world is not only as productive - many would argue more so - than traditional agriculture, it's also a lot less energy intensive. And the energy going into a productive farm is not only in the forms of electricity or fuel, it takes the shape of time and manpower; both things that are a premium for our situation.

My goal is to maximize design and planning in the short term in order to free up time and energy later on. I learned a great permaculture term the other day - relinquished power - that essentially means building processes so that they have not only low energy input required but, if possible, become autonomous in their maintenance. Planning around designs like that would truly help me to maximize my time investment and allow me to get the must done with the energy available.

I don't know if our whole workable 2 acres will become permaculture, or if that will just be some part of it, but it gives me a lot to think about as I research more and more of the possibilities. I'd love it if any of you reading this would pass on references that you've found helpful to you, as well as ideas that you have that I need to consider. I've put myself on a sort of self imposed planning holiday for this season to keep myself from making big decisions that I haven't had time to thoroughly think through. This will be my season of learning, planning and deciding.

So then, what do you have for me? I know there are some permies out there with a ton of info. Don't hold back, no idea is out of bounds.


April 8, 2012

Moved... barely..

It's amazing how much stuff, even when we felt that we'd downsized quite a bit, that we still had.
It seemed like every load we took to our apartment storage area we proclaimed that the next load would be the last. The smaller the items got that we needed to move, the longer it took, but we finally made it. we've managed to squeeze a 2800 square foot house, 3 car garage and a shed into a 2 bedroom apartment with a 14 by 27 foot storage garage.
As for my immediate gardening future, it's all contained on our small patio.

There's raspberries and artichokes saved from our last home... White seedless and red concord grape cuttings from a good friends house that we hope to get started this year... and of course my lemon and olive trees. That's all I have to work with so far this year.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about the new place... trying to think of all the great ideas I have that I'd like to do...
As soon as I can get a internet connection set back up. (I'm posting from a relatives house btw.) I'll be on here and we can all brainstorm as to how it should be put to best use! Get your ideas ready...
Not a lot more to say for now. More than anything I just wanted to share, say hi and make a record of the present for posterity.
Happy Easter!
Talk more soon.

March 19, 2012

New Beginnings

Tonight may very well mark a very new beginning for our family.
Tonight, we accepted the counter offer to our initial offer for what will hopefully become our new home, all things willing...

It's an older home, much older, actually, than it looks but has been nicely updated outside. The inside will still need some updating, but I have full faith in my wife to take care of that. She works wonders in that department! I'll have to update you more on that when the time comes, but for now, suffice it to say it meets all of our needs but needs a bit of "lipstick".Out back the property is in good shape with a play house, a well pump house (Yep... well irrigation water comes with the property.) And a couple of mature fruit trees. One looks to be cherry I think. Anyway... off topic... It has a wonderful deep covered porch that looks out to an unobstructed view west. Great for sunsets I'll wagerAnd a little further out back... well, that's where my domain will begin. The property sits on 2.62 acres of Agriculturally zoned real estate. Undeveloped, underused and waiting to be brought into it's own.
In addition to the land, and the well irrigation rights, this property also carries 30 shares of pasture irrigation water. It's only ten minutes from downtown Ogden, where our kids go to school and where a great farmers market is every summer. Basically, it's everything we had hoped for.

There will be much more info to come, and planning... oh the planning. I hope you'll enjoy the journey with me.
More to come!

March 18, 2012

Uggghhh... My back!

Another weekend of packing and lugging things around in the books. I'm ready to move already... even if it IS just to a crappy little apartment. Hmmm.... wait a minute, that crappy little apartment has a hot tub... thinking this may not be so bad after all.

I managed to get my "Lifetime" plastic shed taken apart (Linked but not affiliated at all. They are just a local company that manufactures good products and hires good local people!) and stowed ready to bring to a generous friends house that will be willing to store it for me until we have a new home. It was actually surprisingly easy. With the help of a few teenage boys that happen to owe me free labor thanks to a life's worth of free food and lodging, I lifted the roof off in one piece and was able to tear the rest down by myself... even with wind!After moving things around and packing all morning and afternoon, I was able to head over to a friends parents house to take some cuttings of some 50+ year old grape vine stock before they started budding for the spring. Right now, at least in my neck of the woods is the perfect time to do this.
These vines were grown for 30 some odd years in the nearby town on a Church owned farm. When that farm was being taken down some 25 years ago, the members of the church were offered the opportunity to take the vines if they wanted to. My friends parents did, and they have been doing well in their backyard ever since. My buddy made a point of making sure I knew these vines did so well because they had once been "Gods vines". Either way, I ate a bunch of the green seedless table grapes this fall, and canned cases of qt's of juice from them and they certainly taste phenomenal! We're hoping that where ever we end up in this move that we'll have space to set up a true vineyard. We've wanted one forever. These cuttings will go a long way to helping with that. I'll cover the cutting and planting of these dormant buds for you in a future post, but it's not really a hard thing.

Speaking of future homesteads.... Tomorrow is D-Day for us on a property that we're REALLY interested in. By D-Day I mean, of course, Decision Day. We have placed an offer on a home and Tomorrow we will know what they think of our offer. Wish us well!

Best to you all, and may I say... I'm really glad to be back... I missed ya!

March 15, 2012

Moving day...

Monday became Moving day for our little ladies.
After planning to move them originally on Saturday, two days from now, and then learning that it is scheduled to rain, we bumped up the move. No better time than the present. I figured that since most of the girls had recently molted and had a flush of new feathers, I figured that this would be a good time to clip the wings on then, since they may be loosely penned and allowed more room to free range at their new home. So out they came, clipped and ready to go and were loaded into a metal pen that I keep around for "things like this", and then we had to drag out the chicken tractor and load it into the new owners truck. I got a bit lucky here because, while I had not measured it previously, the coop was 48 inches wide and coincidentally my gate opening was... 48 inches wide! phew... it fit. Only after taking the wheels off, but it fit none the less.The drive wasn't far, but it was pretty slow. didn't want to have any problems after all.
So, now our girls are at their new home. I haven't heard of any problems, so I'm guessing that things are going alright. I'll probably check in on them this weekend... wouldn't want to just hve them think I didn't care after all.
I was glad to see the new families little kids come running out excited as could be to get to see the "Chickens chickens!!!" I hope they enjoy them as much as we have.
Maybe later this year they'll come home to a new farm?
Till next time!

March 11, 2012

Going to be a hard Season

I was packing today and had a thought... It's going to be a hard season for me this year. I won't have a home, and that means no garden. No garden means no fresh veggies everyday. But even more so, no chance to work in the garden.

I Guess this will be the year to really get to know our local farmers markets and maybe vounteer a few more "hands on" hours at the Extension Service huh?
Got to find the silver lining... that's what it's all about!

March 10, 2012

As we've been going through our own process of making sure that we can move forward with our home sale, we've been slowly coming to the realization that this is really happening... we are moving.

It's a little hard on one hand, I mean we've really grown as a family and as individuals in this home, but in other ways we've grown beyond it. I know now that I don't have to have the "farm of my dreams" to be happy. I know what is possible on a small acreage. We've learned that a "perfect" looking neighborhood often means you have neighbors that are too concerned with their own definition of what "perfect" means. Unfortunately, one families definition of that may not be the same as anothers.

Well, we've completed our home inspection and our appraisal, both of which seem to have gone well and brought up no real issues, so it seems as though in just a few short weeks we are to be transient for the first time in 13 years. We're looking into apartments and storage options, locations and new homes, so many things to do to get ready. But it's not just us, there are other lives impacted by this move...

Yep... the chickens. Not a lot of apartments that take chickens (More like none!) so we need to find them a home. Oh sure, I could put them in the freezer and enjoy them this spring, but it seems like such a waste for a flock of mature, well producing layer hens to just jump to that conclusion. Well, with the help of Facebook and with the help of some great Friends, we've found a new home for the ladies! Yay!!

A family that we met while doing some volunteer work for our Master Gardener program last year and have been able to keep in touch with online saw our call for a new home and have been looking to dip their toes in the the hen keeping business so this is a match made in hennery heaven!

"So, yeah, I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious..." We're packing, we're looking and we're making plans for our charges. Here we go, let's do this!

March 4, 2012


When I wrote my last post, to be quite honest, I was pretty down. It really just put a damper on everything I felt we were trying to do. Obviously I won't let anyone stop me from having a perfectly legal garden, and I had already worked to change the laws so that I could keep my chickens so they're not going anywhere. The thing is that our garden wasn't only so we could produce food for ourselves. We love the feeling we get when we're able to give a lot of it away. We try to make multiple donations to a local women's shelter and of course ”produce bomb” the neighbors (those we can stand). But it was more than that. I felt like I was trying to point out during conversations with people, and during the beginning gardening classes that I teach, that this is possible... Our society can begin to take back at least some part of our food security and we can do it in our own backyards. I guess I was just disheartened that what I was trying so hard to do not only fell on many deaf ears, it was actually seen in a negative way? I, whether I was well meaning or not, was considered that ”trashy” neighbor that no one wants to live by. My wife and I have talked a long time about leaving the area we currently live in and trying to find some place perhaps more “tuned in” to the same things as we are. Our kids go to school a few towns over and that's the area we've thought of going to. We just never really had the catalyst to get us moving on it. It's finally come...

Now before I start getting the emails saying that I should not back down to my stupid ass neighbors, let me reiterate... we've been thinking about moving for some time. To be honest, even after the whole stink with the sign in the yard, we were still not ready to take action; we’ve never been reactionary in any of our life altering decisions. In late November though, I was told that the contact I am currently working under looked like it will not be getting renewed. There was no problems with the work, and still plenty to do in fact, it's just one of those “we need to cut back somewhere” kind of deals. So there it was... the catalyst to get us going on a long deliberated decision. Our house was put on the Market on the first of February, it was time to move on.

I began to write this post a little over a week ago. I’ve been incredibly busy with kids school projects, work, showing our home and looking at what is available on the market so it’s taken me some time to complete it. We’ve had a wonderful reception to our home on the market with an average of one showing every three days. In fact, at the time I am completing this post, I can say that we’ve received a lot of news... Last week, I found out for sure that I’ve received a brief reprieve from the unemployment scare in that my contract has been renewed for one more year. In addition, just 24 hours after that, we received an offer on our home and have accepted it. Our home is currently under contract. It took exactly every day of February, from the 1st to the 29th, but we look to have sold it in one month exactly! Just a few more hurdles like inspections and appraisals to get over and it’s a done deal. Time to find a new “farm”. For some reason, I was telling A~ from the start that I just believed that it would all happen at one time, back to back, and it did. The power of positive thinking and belief cannot be underestimated!

In talking about what we wanted going forward, we’ve decided, for a number of reasons, that we are going to downsize. Not necessarily joining the “small house” masses quite yet, but still we are looking for a smaller home. One with space enough, but perhaps not empty space to fill. If there is one thing that we have found to be true in the last six years or so that we have been slowing becoming more in tune with our lifestyle it is that the value in where we live lies most in the people we share the space with and less with the space itself. We hope to relocate ourselves to a place where we may have a little more acceptance of our “Homescale Farming” ways, and maybe even a little more space to conduct it in. More than anything though, we want to be closer to our kids school and we want to reduce our debt as a hedge against future employment scares. Here’s to hoping. We’ve seen a number of good homes, and may know more soon. Either way, we both look forward to a new adventure.

If you’ve been a guest here for some time you know that of late I’ve been a bit out of the picture. I got to a point that I felt like I just wasn’t adding anything to the discussion and didn’t really know what to share that wasn’t just a rehash of things I’d written before. I look forward to the process of building a new homescale farm as a chance to get back into the swing of things, learn more and try some new techniques. A chance to breath a little new life into our garden and to learn new lessons along the way. If you’re new here, well, welcome and stay tuned. I’ve been planning some big changes for some time and just never managed to get around to them; I think this may just be my own catalyst.

Namaste, and thank you for hanging in there.