Toby Hemenway wrote:
What Joel Salatin is doing at Polyface Farm is utterly permacultural. You use a different set of techniques at farm scale than you would at home scale, of course.
As someone who is trying to bring income out of a small, home-based project, i would be interested to know about these sets of techniques, their differences, and perhaps finding the point at which they meet. I have a feeling this could go into a discussion of homesteading, but while I love the idea of homesteading, it's not really happening for me. I love the work I do in the (smallish) field and in the (friend's) yard, and I'm trying to create a community around that and have some monetary compensation for my efforts as well.
There is certainly a matter of scale between farm and home level production but our farm is our home and the basic techniques are the same. The difference between what we do and just raising for home is that we do it 52 times a year. Every week we take pigs to the butcher and deliver our pork to stores, restaurants and individuals around Vermont. What we do in one week is about the equivelant of a homestead's three to ten year production. But the techniques are the same:
We birth piglets - you might buy yours but many people farrow a sow.
We feed pigs.
We put out hay.
We set fencing.
We improve housing.
We rotate animals on pasture.
We wean piglets.
We train the animals.
We load the pigs to go to butcher.
We pickup the meat from the butcher and deliver it to the customer - yourself if you're doing it for home consumption.
All the basic methods are really very much the same. When we did three pigs we did essentially the same as now with 300 pigs. It is a fair bit more efficient to graze 300 than it is to graze 3 because much of the infrastructure is about the same, not orders of magnitude more.
And yes, we do very sustainablepermaculture. We've setup our system to be there for generations. The next generation is working it and very interested in continuing it. Done well the techniques are essentially the same. I just get a lot more practice faster since I have pigs in 52 different stages of growth vs the single stage of growth that most home scale raisers would have each year.