Sam Boisseau wrote:I personally wouldn't add salt to my soil. However I do add sea weed and haven't really been worried about the salt content.
Cho Global Natural Farming recommends seawater diluted 30 times, applied 20-30 days before fruit harvest. Supposedly makes fruits sweeter. I did it sparingly a couple times and hell didn't break loose.
I read the article. Page 69, They mention using it mostly to balance the amount of fat/virus on livestock.
Most farmers even conventional ones feed salt to their animal.
He also mentions using up to 2lbs of salt per acre, but as a traditional way to grow things like rice.
These plants get submerged and so all the soluble salt (sodium chloride) probably gets was washed away.
Some area do get 10+inches per month of rain in the rainy season and that is probably a very effect solutions for them.
I am not too sure that it would work out so good for most of us using permies.com
Most houses now have plastic water pipes, do they contain BPA or other nasties? I've come up blank with a suitable alternative. Galvanised steel is worse and stainless is way to expensive. It may the price you have to pay though.
Patrick Mann wrote:Watch out though, these are invasive in some parts of the country. Hard to get rid of once established.
Thanks, Patrick. Kinda of counting on it. I love the word "invasive." Doesn't look like the rabbits will/should eat them, will see what the hens think about them. There are two places around the house that are perfect for these. Even if all I get is biomass, thats cool. I just like looking at them.
Equisetum is one of my favorite plants to look at as well...nothing like reminiscing about the carboniferous period and missing our old friends the trilobites. Still, I'd strongly advise that you enjoy looking at them where they are and not bring them to your property. They can be a serious problem. I love weeds and make my living as an herbalist from "pernicious pest" plants I intentionally have growing all over on my place (over 90 species and counting!). Equisetum is not one that I would ever bring home...word to the wise. Because of their primitive biology, they don't respond to the normal control measures you'll try to employ to manage them.
On another note, if you're using these for medicinal purposes don't gather them on a ditch bank or anywhere else near an agricultural field. They are professional nitrate accumulators and can be toxic. In fact, I don't recommend harvesting Equisetum anywhere that it's looking really happy in a thick and vigorous stand...too many nitrates in that dirt.
I might have stumbled upon a technique to propagate them in a nice way. Yesteryear I got a few tubers, I put them in a 40cm diameter pot and left it alone until today. The plants never got very high(about 1m). Today I turned the pot over and to my surprise I found a huge amount of marble-size tubers that had already sprouted but would probably never reach the surface.
Chucked them in my old square meter garden because I don't want them to take over my small garden:
I wonder why all the tubes grow many and little and so deep. Perhaps because the sun was shining on the side of the pot and the plants thought they where close to the surface over there?
Judith Browning wrote: She says you need to use whey in all fruit ferments for consistent success
I haven't read Nourishing Traditons; I'd always got the idea that whey was a 'jumpstarter' which guarantees the good bacteria win, not a requirement.
Maybe that's it then, as my non-fruit ferments are fine.
Well, the fermented tomato sauce is downright explosive, but it's not 'off'.
Maybe it's that whey/fruit thing again...
Biodynamics as I have experienced is akin to homeopathy for the earth. I still don't truly understand homeopathy but it is effective as medicine for myself and especially for my young children, in certain instances. Biodynamic preparations uses a similar principal. It does appeal most to those who have a spiritual sensibility, and affinity with subtle energies and substances.
That's a good news thread in and of itself - very cool! Though with 5 pages so far (and for those with low bandwidth trying to load oh so many pics), here's the link to Ken's loquats post. That does look like a bountiful load, Ken!
I had my eyes set on Ossabaw pigs but they have very feral tendencies so purhapse a Ossabaw /Kune Kune hybrid might produce the docile characteristics as well as maintain the desirable meat characteristics I am seeking.
Adam Klaus wrote:
A Biodynamic scholar like E. Pfeiffer certainly negates this grouchy quote from Chadwick.
You are right here, if you take Chadwick literally. But Chadwick doesn't take Chadwick seriously! He is much more in line with a sort of harsh Zen iconoclasm. He used BD500 (sometimes) but few of the other preparations. He was a cantankerous man who spoke in contradictions and abhorred jargon -- even (and perhaps especially) jargon with which he agreed.
Adam Klaus wrote:Anybody seeking to discredit Biodynamics needs to read Soil Fertility by E. Pfeiffer. The man was a scientist and a farmer.
Hello all first off thank you all so much I'm overwhelmed by your kindness. You all backed up pretty much my exact thoughts. JOHN that was perfectly put I agree with everything you said we are one in the same. My father too worked and still works 60+ hours a week hes been an alcoholic for 20+ years because of it. He lost his wife (my mother) because he chose working over us. I can't think of 1 memory with him and guess what tw irony of it is? He is still in about the same place as 20 years ago when he started with his company. No happier no richer and now no family. I would never want that with my daughter. I'm glad to spend every second with her. I also agree with the statement on it's harder off grid with kids because you don't get alone time. But it's just my wife daughter and I and it has been like that so we haven't had a day apart since she was born and she's 2 now so that part is no issue because it's what we do now she co sleeps with us and she's always on the farm with us so no concerns their we also have never had a t.v or any of that so she isn't going to miss anything. It's just such a confusion now a day. I know well or atleast I thought I knew what's right and that's spending time with your family working together for your own needs and just simply living. Not slaving away 60 hours to send your kids to daycare to never see them at all but that's how society wants people to think is the "right" way to raise your kids to be good little consumers. Myself personally feel something deep in my soul that I can't live in today's society I feel it's wrong in every way not because I'm
Lazy and don't want to work. Self sustaining off grid farms in my opinion is the wisest thing to do. If everyone did this then their wouldn't be any homeless any without food and everyone could live happy and one with nature. But then again you have your family and pressure all around telling you that's just hippy stuff you need to grow up. After reading all this it eased my worries although I was very confident my daughter would be fine considering we work on an organic farm now and she hates being indoors so she could care less about the materialistic things she would rather play on the garden or with the animals. Although the place I mentioned in the topic fell through unfortunately, we are still making the move off grid by the summer and all of this helps tremendously. Ideally would like to find a place with other families that do the same I would love my daughter growing around like minded children and id like to be around like minded individuals. But that's just hopes and dreams. I appreciate everyone that responded! Thank you ! Namaste
Jamie Jackson wrote:About 5 years ago I donated a small amount to kiva.org, the small loan organization and keep re-loaning the same money. You pick someone trying to upgrade/ start their business. SO many farmers wanted money for seed and pesticide and/or herbicides. I contacted Kiva and asked them why can't they form coops or teaching groups and teach people permaculture or at least organic farming. They said I'm welcome to do that. We've given up everything we have to build a self-sufficient homestead and teach along the way, but I"m teaching locals. We might be in the "have" group, but just barely When we get our house finished and more experience under our belts, we'll teach more and more.
Jamie congrats on being able to make the commitment to fully realize permaculture. With that said the following is more directed at people who do not base their livelihoods on permaculture based agriculture or instruction, but still aspire to follow permaculture ethics: The ethical concept of reinvesting surplus (of "Haves") in people should be focused on the people who we can help the most. Personally my interpretation of this is to both look outward at the people who depend on learning permaculture concepts for survival in the short-term and to look into own communities for the people who lack food security and access to the means to get nutritious food. These people might not be starving, but they will on average have lower lifespans and face more health problems (lower quality of life). This especially applicable to the urban poor in "affluent countries", but also in rural and suburban areas and "developing countries".
By looking to help people in nearby communities and localities we are able to better educate and provide assistance in ways that work for our areas 1) in a biological sense (the actual plants, ecosystems, and relevant techniques in the local climate) 2) in a culturally relevant sense (how to explain it, maintain it, and propagate it in meaningful ways) and 3) in a communal sense (by providing introduction to a community and providing support). My personal goal for doing this is providing instruction focused on the recipient's needs through permaculture techniques (regardless of whether they aspire to follow or know permaculture ethics per se) and by providing flexible access to the material means of implementation: tools, cuttings, seeds, and human resources.
I think this is especially relevant in areas that often self-segregate. (along lines such as: wealth, class, religion, age, politics, profession, ethnicity, race, language, and various combinations) We (people in largely self-segregated communities) create parallel networks of routine interaction when we have much in common and live in the same areas. I grew up in Richmond, Virginia and experienced a feeling of dread upon realizing I drove by the houses of thousands of residents regularly and I knew nothing about them besides where their hypothetical children might go to school. This sense of dread was not a reflexive threatened fear, but a deep discomfort due to the realization that I lived in an area where many had reduced hundreds of potential personal interactions to outright avoidance, impersonal economic transactions, gross generalizations, and politics. Doing that gives many the self-assurance to believe that things are all good here (with the exception of sensationalized crime) and ignore systemic problems except in certain contexts (often the welfare state or charity, depending on political flavor). I would add that creating and supporting hugely (perhaps radically) accessible spaces and events where these parallel networks of people can interact is highly important. Certainly some people need to travel to create change, but (in my opinion) too many think it is the only way to create meaningful change.
- Rant Complete- - Ben
I very much want people to openly advertise their site and their stuff when it is relevant to permies. But it has to be done within our comfort zone. Currently we delete a LOT of spam. As a result, the whole staff is pretty much on auto-pilot when you see a short sentence and a link to delete it without really reading it.
I like to think that if somebody has a blog and they post the way adrien suggested in the first post, then I like the idea that we find ways to send lots of traffic to your site. And in the case of the "bad post" then we will probably delete that and no traffic will go to your site.
Further, some people that wish to bring attention to their site and/or product have come to the conclusion that this is fucked up and I am the king of dicks. To respond to that, I have two important points:
1) If you think this, then why do you spend even one more second on my site? Do you find pleasure in being miserable? Go find a community that fits your idea of awesome.
2) I take great pride in being the king of dicks based on your standards. Naturally, by my standards, and the standards of a few others, I am fucking awesome. And this site is dedicated to those people.
Gilbert, it can be done but it all depends on management methods. This is the reason for so many different responses. If you have a traditional garden bed and throw out clover with say lettuce seed it will choke out the lettuce because it grows faster and taller than the lettuce. However if you grow tomatoes or corn and wait until the plant is larger than the maximal height of the clover and then broadcast clover the tomato, corn, what have you, will probably thrive. To replant in this situation you would have to weaken the clover either by mowing, chop and drop, or animals. Animals are my favorite option. You can also create a natural system in which lettuce, corn, tomatoes, and clover grow together by periodically allowing animals to graze thus preventing the dominance of any one species and increasing diversity in the system. But this is something that needs to be built slowly and over time. The best option always seems to be, experiment.
Judith, your husband has many admirers here, and I hope he knows it
I have an offtopic, random, and possibly very silly question.
My vision's a bit dodgy and I can't for the life of me see how/where your wodge of woodchips is 'in space'
Am I looking from the side? Underneath? See what I mean about random questions?!
I tell him, Leila...by the end of the day, though, he's not up for talking 'pitchforks' much
I took the picture standing kind of from the side...so from above and slightly to the side he is about to move the pile so I wanted to get a picture before they go out....don't think I have a sculpture in me...although at one time I would have given it a go!
Mark Chadwick wrote:If it works I'll get back to you..... in a year or two😁
Great! I think of it as being a very 'Australasian' permie plant-
I basically don't hear of Americans growing it...
but I've never come across anyone growing autumn olive Elaeagnus multiflora round here.
I don't think it's climate; more likely that many of the nitrogen-fixing pioneer plants can be a problem in their adopted environments.
Very cute! Probably on M27 rootstock. There's nothing magic about where you start the branching, they should fruit just fine. If I weren't overloaded with apples already, I'd put in some English step-over apples. I might do some anyway, just for the novelty factor. I remember a photo in one of Rosemary Veery's books of step-overs and it was so pretty when they were in bloom.
I'm not sure how much ph is changed in the soil with the cleansers we use, but I do know which ones are on the more alkalai side. Soap is the killer: ph at 10 or higher. Baking soda ph 8. I think borax is about the same or higher. Mild detergent is around ph 7. So, while the soap is going to kill more germs from its sheer high alkalai, detergent isn't going to do as much for anti bacterial, unless it has a chemical in it that is anti-bacterial. Soap by its very nature is antibacterial, and doesn't need a chemical additive. I don't like chemicals, so I buy pure, mild detergent. As for sanitizing, you could do it the old fashioned way by boiling the silverware or plunging in boiling rinse water, or maybe add vinegar to the rinse water bath.
A fun thread!
We did this for an office once, a zone analysis for which equipment was in which zone for each person.
Zone 1 was the immediate, active desk (pencils, computer, phone)
Zone 2 was stuff you use a few times a day (bottom drawer of the desk, shared printer, calendar, relevant files)
Zone 3 was a few times a week (older files, watering the plants, the bookkeeper coming in to write checks)
Zone 4 was stuff you use monthly to yearly (board meeting folders, annual reports, backstock for slow-moving sales items)
Zone 5 was stuff we never used, but thought someone else might still want (the big storage-room jungle, with like a half a commercial kitchen for that eventual building remodel)
It was fun to overlap people's outer zones to determine where to put the printer, who sits adjacent to shared filing cabinets.
Architectural books can help think about classic layouts, room to allow for various activities, what kinds of spaces can overlap.
Permaculture may also take into account passive flows, what flows into a space (sun, fuel, water) and what outputs that space provides (heat, greywater, drafts).
- Bedrooms: Private, quiet, near closet or dressing room, near bathroom or nursery, nice if it's near laundry. East-facing windows are nice if you want to wake up with the morning light
- Bathrooms: Private, noisy, smelly, needs water access, humid, needs ventilation fans or windows, nice if it's easy to find, near closets or laundry.
Conflicts: If you can avoid backing a toilet up against a bedroom wall, the occupants will thank you. Also, can you direct guests there without embarrassment? +1 for hospitality.
- Kitchens: Public, messy, warm, needs water access, needs fuel / electrical access, near pantry, garden, garage or grocery delivery point. Within kitchen, cook needs certain things in reach, guests out from underfoot. Diners need access to dishes, silverware, common breakfast or snack foods if self-service, coffee, tea. Lots of food and compost and garbage going in and out; compost accessible near sink and cutting surfaces is wonderful. Space nearby to expand long-term food storage (chest freezer, garage racks for canned goods) a plus.
- Pantry / cellar: Cool storage for food; near kitchen, near garden for roots / seeds / worm bins, cleanable or non-moldy if doing fermented foods or cheeses.
- Dining: Formal dining rooms are between guest areas and kitchen, with door or pass-through into kitchen that does not look directly onto sink full of dirty dishes. Informal dining may be within kitchen, or as adequate tables within an all-purpose living or rec room. Formal dining rooms sometimes become offices, parlors, craft rooms, or even guest rooms if not in use.
- Breakfast nook / island: informal room for family meals, off kitchen; primary purpose to allow diners easy access to food while not standing in cook's way; also shares heat of kitchen without heating whole house for families doing the school/off-site work thing.
- Living room / rec room: for mainly sedentary activities, heart of the home's function as shelter, entertaining guests. Easy access to entry way, dining, bathroom; possibly also garden, kitchen, or other overflow spaces for big parties. Sedentary activities require greater warmth; close to heated core of house. Most common hours of use: mid-day through evening, with evenings dominating.
- Parlors, guest rooms, home office: typically occasional-use only, may be on periphery with a separate, on-demand heater. Access to main living areas, entry way (offices may want separate entrance), bathrooms; but generally may be in cooler periphery of house or any convenient unused space. More regularly-use home offices, or one used for purposes that demand heat such a massage or yoga studio, may be on south side or near heated core.
- Game room / exercise room / shop / hobby room: more active pursuits don't require as much warmth; may open onto garage, basement, garden/pool, or other related activity areas and sources of materials. Can even be in basement or semi-outdoor locations (porch, attic).
- Glasshouse / growing rooms: between house and garden, south or sunny side, access to water, nice if near kitchen, entertaining areas.
- Entry: formal transition between outdoors and indoors. May be a mud room, formal entry with coat closets and stairs, or anything in between. Porch can also double as mud room / entry.
- Porch or mud room: transition from outdoors; access to entry, social entertaining spaces.
- Utility / mechanical room: central hub facilitates distribution of electrical power, heat, solar power or hot water; furnaces and boilers benefit from being near-central, below living areas; near workshop, laundry, hobby areas.
- laundry: water access, exterior walls for ventilation and drainage, convenient if near utility room, bedrooms, bathrooms, clothesline
- garden: Zone 1 outdoors, near-house features may include greenhouse, poultry, kitchen herbs, salad, other daily-use produce; water access, compost and kitchen access.
- outdoor entertainment areas: BBQ, children's play areas, within reach of kitchen, living, entertaining areas, bathroom.
- incubator: puppies, lambs, eggs and chicks may need a warm spot indoors; farm kitchens may also connect to a byre or dairy.
- wood-drying shed / tool shed: usually about 30 feet from house, can be near garden (tool storage, bark and sawdust re-use) or near driveway (wood delivery).
These outdoor spaces may be part of the home's design, for example in climates with white-out conditions or very short growing seasons, you may dedicate more indoor / porch-type space to firewood, seedlings, and prized farm stock.
- most frequently-used items within reach. 'kaizen' is the principle of incremental improvements; your changing activities will dictate adjustments over time. But there are some common ones:
Kitchens ideally are a narrow, enclosed workspace, with a one-step triangle between sink, stove, and food storage (fridge). Pantry as close as convenient; if a distant root cellar or cool store, then also a smaller everyday pantry cupboard.
Cooks are popular, but do not want 'company' when they are moving hot pans around. Dining, hangout, or other social spaces can be separated with half-walls or islands. Ideally these contain most items a helper would interrupt the cook to find: coffee/tea, dishes, silverware, napkins, maybe even the sink or fridge is part of the transition zone.
Offices ideally have filing or storage within reach of desk; if shared, Internet hubs and phones are between users.
Seating areas are 'lobes': seating in profile or 3/4 view of each other, can face the fire or TV, tables for refreshments, not divided by heavily-used walkways.
Wood-burning heat sources need firewood storage, tools/matches, ash bucket, and any other utility features such as cooking, clothes drying, seating, etc.
- emergency or safety items in the places where they are most useful, and not where they are likely to be buried, inaccessible, or irritating to the point of removal.
Fire alarms near bedrooms; away from kitchen steam but between kitchen and bedrooms.
extinguishers near entry/exits and fire sources, not in hidden cupboards; egress windows in bedrooms and basements (shelters); emergency food and water stored in shelter (cellar, basement).
- most expensive infrastructure centralized (heat, water, electrical)
- hallway nitpick: Define hallways or pass-throughs to occupy the least amount of a room, setting aside suitably large undisturbed 'lobes' for intended activities.
- provide doors to control air flow - cross-breezes, central stairway as ventilation chimney.
- heat moves from east to west over the day, with southwest being the hottest part of the day; warm air moves from lower to upper; warmth moves in line-of-sight from heater outward (radiating)
- water flows most easily downward. Domestic water typically arrives at 15 lbs pressure, or may be pumped to an attic tank to achieve similar flow.
- cool is available on shady side
- where people are, and have been for a long time, local structures reflect what is generally needed for comfort. Don't neglect the standard functions: drainage, roof eaves, foundations that protect from settling and damp; footings that resist fire, snow, and vermin; insulated walls and ceilings, ventilated attics; windows that offer both wind and light; doors that shut.
It can be a fun design exercise to name all the functions of a ubiquitous object like the headboard on a bed - things you may not notice until you've lived without one. (Draft stopper, reading support, pillow rack, ventilation of walls and bedding, often shaped to deter spiders or vermin from reaching pillows; grab-hold when sick, playful, nursing, etc... may also support blanket forts, mosquito nets, princess or whitewater-canoe fantasies, books and reading lamps, piles of kids for storytime, alarm clock, hanging pockets if no built-in shelves. Oh, and it's decorative, formalizing and celebrating the loving union of a couple, or their sheltering protection of a child or guest.)
- when building with standard materials, follow common standards unless there is reason to deviate (for example, consistent 16" spacing on studs makes it easier to find studs for hanging shelves later)
- anything built must be maintained, and may need to be altered or repaired. make reasonable provision for minor changes: places to attach shelves or new walls, egress windows in an office that might become a bedroom.
Both standard and traditional (ancient) construction methods allow for remodels. Some innovative construction methods do not, yet, have a reasonable remodel potential. (earth-tube domes, poured-concrete walls, polyester laminates, earth-sheltered structures with inaccessible water barriers or drainage, some truss systems, some curtain-wall brackets).
In my perfect home, therefore:
Kitchen near garage or driveway, garden, and play/social areas
Bathroom and kitchen might share a wet wall and greywater drainage
Living room and office would be between kitchen and heater, staying warm
Bedrooms might be on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen, sharing a wall with heater; or upstairs, above parlor where heat from evening entertainment could be dumped upstairs at bedtime.
If I have a washer-dryer or other appliances, I would expect them to go near a bathroom or the kitchen (outside wall, water access)
One classic design is my uncle's house, from about the 1910's. Picture it as a rectangle 3 squares wide, 2 squares deep, with porches front and back, and a smaller upper story with dormers:
- central front entry that leads to central stairs, parlor to R, dining room to L;
- off back entry beside/under stairs leads to kitchen (L by dining room), study and/or bathroom (R off parlor), outdoors/back porch.
Upstairs, bathroom (and any water storage tanks) can be over kitchen or parlor; bedrooms over parlor and rest of floor area. The 'spare room' or study can double as a guest room; in my uncle's house the parlor is a large living room, and the study has a folding door that allows it to enlarge the parlor (or serve as a giant TV console, with the office computer facing the room). There is a fireplace against the exterior wall in the parlor, but routine heating is with a basement furnace.
This design allows a loop (kitchen to hall to dining) that opens into the backyard play space and covered porch, but does not include the parlor (adult hangout).
Back kitchen and back porch lead onto garden, easy transfer of greywater from back of house to garden if desired. Deep porch where produce can be processed, outdoor picnics laid out.
Depending on orientation, front or back porch, or a side porch, can be a sunny spot for zone 1 plants as well as mud-room, people-watching, etc.
My uncle's lot is narrow, faces west, slopes toward the street, so there is sunny garden space in both front and back. The back is mostly trees. Friendly neighbors have built backyard gates between the yards for kid and party access.
A masonry garage down at street level also makes a warm thermal mass wall for heat-loving vines and tomatoes.
Nice, classic setup.
For myself, I'm working with an 800 sf cottage, and plotting a 550 sf apartment over the shop. Weird-shaped spaces may take several tries to get a sensible nesting of functions, without leaving unusable corners.
So many possibilities....
There is no such thing as a perfect house, but many that work well.
The oldest inhabited houses are those that have accommodated the family from cradle to grave, in extended clans and bachelor farmers, in many configurations over time.
Water closets are recent, even more than the attached garage (or byre); the need for air, light, shelter, food storage, and privacy are ancient.
What you are sheltering from changes by season and region, but not much over generations (cold, heat, muggy stillness, hurricanes, mosquitoes, warring or nosy neighbors).
How big a food storage you need, the level of privacy, and the routine activities, change.
One of my favorite design tools is looking for the oldest preserved houses in a given region - and if it's a dried-up museum, take a snoop around at any still-inhabited old homes nearby.
I also like the idea of a lopsided duplex, or two-family home, as a more practical unit for long-term ownership than the single-family home.
A nuclear family goes between two main sizes: two to three adults, and a passal of active kids-and-adults. The family group bulges at generational intervals like a snake eating eggs.
The big house is for the big phase of family life.
A smaller cottage or granny flat is handy for the other phases, especially if there's enough privacy that it could also be rented out to friends or strangers when available.
In this culture we would expect privacy: designated separate kitchens, separate entrances, soundproof bedroom walls, a policy of non-interference, and lines of demarcation between public areas and Very Private I Mean It.
Old long houses (very similar designs whether Norse, Tlingit, some other northern peoples) might have firepits in the main gallery, cupboard-beds or curtained benches along the sides, but much less auditory privacy.
On ships, there are conventions for personal space even though everyone can hear everything: a place you can party and hang out during meals and off-duty (galley, common room), places for quiet company (chart room / library). If you see anyone in their bunk, or somewhere else but off-duty, they are signalling for privacy and you leave them alone.
Awareness of others, and interference with others, are two different things. Privacy can come from being non-visible or non-audible, from keeping secrets close to your chest, from having belongings undisturbed. But security may also mean having someone check on you if they hear a thump and then silence, or having neighbors within shouting distance if you are attacked by burglars or wild beasts. There are few layouts that can offer real (hidden) privacy for an activity like sex, while preserving the 'shout for help' or 'ominous thump' caretaking functions.
In permaculture we try to be very aware and observant of all the patterns around us, but we don't need to interfere, or to make other housemates uncomfortable by insisting that their patterns are our business.
One of the local farmer's markets had the kids decorate a zucchini squash, put wheels on it and then they raced them down a slanted board/track. It was really fun for the kids! You can make cheap wheels by slicing a round stick/log, around 3" thick would be good & drilling a hole in the middle. Use bamboo or sticks for the shaft, just poke it right through the zucchini.
Feeding stuff to animals is always a hit too. See if you can borrow some baby pot belly pigs for that. Or kid goats, but watch that they don't get sick from too much rich food!