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Alone in Alabama? An Introduction.

Brendan Getchel


Joined: Mar 26, 2012
Posts: 23
Location: North Alabama
SOME BACKGROUND -- As City as City-Folk can be:

I was born in Boston and have lived all of my adult life in Connecticut, commuting on-and-off to downtown NYC to work for the last ~20 years. Exactly five years ago, when I was 39, my wife and I decided to "retire," purchasing a small farm in NE Alabama (Boaz). For the first 2-3 years we did nothing but enjoy Southern Country living. 2-3 years ago my wife was given one heifer (Red Angus) and we purchased 12 hens of various breeds and one Buff Orpington rooster.

Fast-forward 2+ years later and we now have 10 cows - a couple of Angus, two Jersey and one Guernsey which my wife hand-milks daily, a Holstein bull calf coming of age, and my 4-legged daughter: a gorgeous Charolais named Charlie (pronounced "Shar-Lee"). Charlie looks like she might be a Freemason -- yes, I got it wrong on-purpose -- but she writes poetry, plays the piano, paints like Picasso, and adores me (the first 3 might be slight exaggerations), so she gets a pass on having to be useful in some "farmy" way. I wanted to make her an indoor cow, but my wife vetoed my plan to dedicate a spare bedroom for her.

Our 12 hens, though we tried to instill a sense of morality in them, have been given over to unbridled lust, and have grown to over 100 illegitimate little fornicators that know no modesty. They may be unrepentant sluts, but they also produce 30+ eggs per day, and now that Spring has arrived that number seems to be increasing rapidly. We also slaughter 5-10 roosters per month without remorse. Once they form gang-rape squads they are marked for death, and the hens love to watch as justice is served. We hold a fair trial, but as judge, jury, and (sometimes) executioner, any Rooster-dreams of reprieve quickly fade and the hens cluck for joy as the bloodbath commences.

We have a few turkeys, but their insistence on playing “chicken” with the occasional horseless carriage that comes down our country road rarely ends in their favor, and their numbers continue to drop as a result. We have two Toms and one hen remaining, but a number of turkey eggs are being set-on by various chickens, so we hope to replenish their numbers soon (fingers crossed).

My wife just picked up four piglets a few weeks ago. She'll have to tell you what they are, but I do know they apparently represent two countries -- Poland and China. There's a "rock" in there somewhere too, but I could be making this all up, which is a character flaw I expose frequently and without shame. We hope to breed them and, with some divine intervention, perhaps even sell some of their offspring for actual US dollars in return, which is the financial equivalent of holding an umbrella in a Tsunami.

We've wisely chosen the path of "learning from experience." By "wisely" I mean employing as much stupidity as nature will allow one person to exercise, and by "experience" I mean making every mistake humanly possible, paying the most for the least amount of return, and maximizing potential damage in the process. We have proudly cut our financial jugular and have hemorrhaged tens of thousands of dollars to sustain animals worth a fraction of that amount.

Now that we know there is a different (i.e. "right") way to do things, thanks to Permies (and just about every other carbon-based life form converting oxygen into CO2) we're hoping to actually invert our current trend and turn this into a sustainable lifestyle, even if it is only a "break-even" proposition on the balance sheet.

Right now, a healthy, sustainable pasture is of critical importance. Ultimately, we would like to get ALL of our animals off commercial feed, which costs us dearly. Chicken Scratch is $14/bag, plus Layer Pellets at $10/bag, plus Dairy Feed at $12/bag, plus Calf Starter at $12/bag, plus cattle feed at $300/ton, plus hay at $30/roll, plus pasture maintenance at $5,000/year, plus (now) Swine Feed at $11/bag.

We go through many bags of each per week and, believe it or not, our pasture **is** capable of sustaining our livestock!

If we could eliminate or substantially reduce our reliance upon commercial feed and pasture treatments / fertilizers, and migrate many of the alternatives here on Permies into our overall lifestyle, which is now a fundamental goal of ours, we may actually be able to sustain ourselves indefinitely.

That's us in a nutshell. If you're in/around/near North Alabama, give us a shout. We'd LOVE to hob-knob with some local(ish) Permites.

Yours truly,

Brendan (The Idiot Farmer).

I only know what I know, and don't know what I don't. So if I sound ignorant, trust your instincts.
Je Ho


Joined: Apr 20, 2012
Posts: 1
Hi there! We're from Northern Alabama also. Just starting to get things ready for our self-sufficiency. Hoping to have our egg layers in their tractor by June and have some broilers set up soon after that. Pesticide/Chem. Free Garden is in the works soon also. Good to know we're not alone in the Heart of Dixie!!
Ryan Absher


Joined: May 09, 2012
Posts: 28
Location: Northeast Alabama, Zone 7a
Nope, not alone!
I have been living in northeast Alabama most of my life, but have only known about permaculture for around 1 year.
My wife and I have done a few small projects so far, our next one will be a small food forest. When I get the 1st draft
of the designs finished, I will post them in the Permaculture forums for critique.

It's nice to know there are others in N AL with an interest in Permaculture...


http://www.cyremann.com
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1391
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
    9
Hello all from your neighbor in South Carolina. Looks like there may be a growing number of us in the south east. Since a lot of permie stuff that is posted seems to be geared towards people with snow and frost lines I would really be interested in seeing what you all do to incorporate permaculture in your farms and farmlets.


1. my projects
Nicole Castle


Joined: Jul 18, 2012
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
Just saying hello -- I'm also in northern Alabama!
                                        


Joined: May 26, 2011
Posts: 12
Hi! I'm in North Alabama, too. We need some kind of alabama permies network!! I know of a couple others, who aren't on this forum.
Mary Chaffin


Joined: Jul 20, 2012
Posts: 1
HI!!! Just found this forum and sooo happy to see others from Alabama here! We just moved to northern Alabama from Wisconsin. We have a few acres that we plan to develop into our own little farmette. I haven't found many in this area that are interested in organic farming or permaculture so seeing your post and the replies made me very happy!!!

Peace to all!
Nicole Castle


Joined: Jul 18, 2012
Posts: 151
Location: Madison, AL
Wow, Mary, that's quite a difference. You're going to be wearing shorts all winter and wondering why all the roads shut down when we get 1/2" of snow.

So, Alabama folks, when is the BBQ and seed swap?
Charles Thompson


Joined: Nov 17, 2011
Posts: 17
Location: Montevallo, AL
We're in central Alabama, Montevallo. Would love to get together with others interested in permaculture. We have a Facebook group called Central Alabama Permaculture Enthusists. We would love other Alabamians to join and post about there permaculture projects.
Charles Thompson


Joined: Nov 17, 2011
Posts: 17
Location: Montevallo, AL
We are also developing Blue Heron Edible Forest Garden along a section of the Montevallo Parks Trail. With established black walnuts and pecans on the site, we are creating guilds of fruit trees, berries, nitrogen fixer, and vines. A local nursery has promised to give us fruit trees and berries that they cannot sale.So the garden is coming along nicely.
Dave Bigham


Joined: Sep 08, 2012
Posts: 10
Location: AL
One more joining the ranks NW AL. I was born on this farm, 3rd generation, now trying to undo what 80 years of conventional farming has done to the land. (we're slow learners). Don't know if I'll be around to enjoy all the benefits, just trying to to lay the foundations for the young folks. Don't have an outside source of income, still have to live during the changes, makes it tough. Anyway, look forward to learning here and sharing!

Here's Big Boy and a few of his girls. Once the peach harvest is over I turn in the cows, they love the leaves.



[Thumbnail for Big Boy.jpg]

Gail Moore


Joined: Jul 09, 2011
Posts: 142
Location: south central Appalachia, southwest Virginia, US zone 6/7
    
    1
Howdy folks,

Thank you for speaking up and letting us know there are some permie folks in this area.

As a car free person who is thinking to come live in this general area--some of you live around Montevallo and the wider surrounding area, which towns are a good place to research and possibly come to rent a place, so that we can connect with some of you in this area? Places with modest rental prices? for a one or two bedroom, for one or two people?

Which towns have grocery/supermarket/local food for sale? any farmer's markets?

Do any of you have get togethers? Potlucks?

You can feel free to answer here on the forum or private email.

Do you happen to know which towns are more walkable than others?

This is hopefully enough to get some feedback/input.
THank you in advance for your time and attention.

Happy trails.








The world needs all kinds of minds. --Temple Grandin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn_9f5x0f1Q
Weird or just different? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K5SycZjGhI&feature=endscreen&NR=1
Gail Moore


Joined: Jul 09, 2011
Posts: 142
Location: south central Appalachia, southwest Virginia, US zone 6/7
    
    1
Wow, I just went to the Central Alabama Permaculture Enthusiasts facebook page and read the b-metro article about Montevallo.

This sounds like exactly what I've been dreamin' about and being involved with this forward thinking type of town..

Gail Moore


Joined: Jul 09, 2011
Posts: 142
Location: south central Appalachia, southwest Virginia, US zone 6/7
    
    1
[size=18] [/sizeIn addition to places such as Montevallo, are there towns in NE Alabama near to where some of you live, which would be good places to consider moving? Thank you for sharing.
Charles Thompson


Joined: Nov 17, 2011
Posts: 17
Location: Montevallo, AL
Hi, Gail. Montevallo really is a wonderful little town, and the university and a rather quirky populous of free thinkers, amid a more traditional group, make it ripe for the Permaculture cultivation. Among the offerings one finds in the area are two community gardens approx 2 miles from each other, with others in the planning stage, a bike share ($20 a year, week to week check out, 2.5 miles of parks trail with a eight miles in discussion), hiking trails to waterfalls, a summer farmers' market (ranked second in the state), a university with beautiful grounds (Olmsted designed), an anagama kiln (university), various recreational areas, arts Fest and walks throughout the year, free to low cost exercise programming, and really cool people in a rural atmosphere.

Walking is the way I get around most of the time. I live downtown, off main street, and we have sidewalks and trails that make it relatively easy to get to the grocery store (two), or just about anyplace else you'd need to go in town.

As far as affordable living goes, I think that has a lot to do with from where you're coming. Montevallo may seem higher than a few other similar places because we have a student population to drive up rent, but in comparison up most of the broader country, the US, I mean, Alabama living costs are fairly low. There are lots of smaller rental homes in the area, many in the historic areas, too, and the outlying areas (Wilton, brierfield, dogwood, pea ridge Aldridge, etc.) offer lower rents in even more rural settings than the town proper does. These areas are farther out, and may present a problem for a walking person, though.

I'd love to answer more specific questions if you have them. Alabama bred and born, I see great things in our future and hope more like thinking people will find their way here.


Please feel welcome to join Central Alabama Permaculture Enthusiasts (CAPE). We're in central Alabama, but we're interest in diverse people and perspectives.
Gail Moore


Joined: Jul 09, 2011
Posts: 142
Location: south central Appalachia, southwest Virginia, US zone 6/7
    
    1
Hi Charles. THank you for your reply and in depth information. There are many good points here for affordable renting and walkability.

I'll continue to stay in touch and hopefully others will ask questions, too, and we'll spread the word of CAPE and more.
Jonathan Woolley


Joined: Dec 17, 2012
Posts: 3
Yay! Other Alabama permies! I live on 1 acre in Birmingham AL. I've got rabbits, chickens, fruit trees, and vegetable and herb gardens. My goal is to create edible forest gardens and to keep bees.

Just joined the Central Alabama Permaculture Enthusiasts page on FB. I'd love to meet up with fellow permies. Any Birminghamers out there?
Charles Thompson


Joined: Nov 17, 2011
Posts: 17
Location: Montevallo, AL
We are in Birmingham a lot. We have family in Hoover and friends all over. I went to UAB and lived in Southside for over a decade ( it still feels like home). We would love to meet up. I love to talk about permaculture and see what others are doing.
Thanks for joining Central Alabama Permaculture Enthusiasts on Facebook. This is where we chronicle the progress of the Blue Heron Edible Food Forest Garden, post notices of permaculture and community garden events in our area and the serrounding area, share links that we think others in the group would be interested in, and generally help each other out. So please join the conversation. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1391
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
    9
Just wanted to throw my hat into the Alabama forum. I'm thinking of looking for property to purchase just outside of Montgomery - I'm considering retiring there.

I'll be making some trips to the area to look around over this next summer and would love to network with other permies in the area.
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1391
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
    9
Just read your post again Charles. I'm headed to Montgomery next month to scout out the area with a friend who will act as my guide. I will check out Central Alabama Permaculture Enthusiasts for sure.

Does it snow in Montevallo? So far I a focusing on Montgomery or just south of it due to climate and proximity to friends. But I am not committed to any one spot as of yet.

looking to buy an acre or so late this year.

It will have to be in an area without homeowners associations or zoning restrictions.

I don't know if it is allowed but ideally I would pull my RV onto it to live in. If that is not allowed by state code then I will probably look for the smallest mobile home, or property that already has a house that I can fix up (or tear down).
J D Horn


Joined: Jan 23, 2012
Posts: 152
    
    2
Jeanine,

You may want to reach out to this blogger. She's just north of Montgomery. http://prattvillepermaculture.wordpress.com/

As long as you stick to unincorporated areas I doubt anyone will say anything about you living in your RV.

Depending on your goals (urban vs rural) and budget, keep an eye on the foreclosure websites like homepath.com, homesteps.com, and hudhomestore.com. There are some good deals on homes from time to time with chunks of land.
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1391
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
    9
Thanks JD, I just sent her a message.
jason strayhorn


Joined: Jan 31, 2014
Posts: 16
So I see several people in North alabama...anyone near florence (north alabama)? Would love to maybe start a group that meets ever so often to share advice and maybe see about helping one another out. Any takers?
Roger Bailey


Joined: Nov 12, 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Pulaski
Hello northern Alabama.
I'm here in southern Tennessee. Pulaski just NE of Florence and N of Athens and I would like to meet up with you so set a date and let's get started.

Roger
Tyler Ewing


Joined: Feb 05, 2014
Posts: 3
Glad to see that I'M not alone haha. I'm Tyler, 23 from Hoover and living in Birmingham. Only about 3 years of acquiring knowledge on the field of Permaculture but a deep interest in turning that into physical experience. I currently live in an apartment on 280 which doesn't really provide a great environment to learn outside of book knowledge, so I'd love to network with some local folks. Also just requested to join the Facebook group, seems to be popular. Looking forward to growing this movement within the state, the potential is there for this to catch on quickly!
Ben Bowman


Joined: Aug 17, 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Hoover, AL
    
    1
Welcome to Permies Tyler! I have been working 16 acres about 20 miles south of you (Calera) for the past year. If you (or anyone else here) want to come out for dinner and a tour sometime, just shoot me a PM with your contact info. I would also be interested in swapping some seeds or plants with local permies.

The project is in the early stages since we bought the property last January. We're currently doing some earthworks (125' of 7' tall hugel beds) and finishing off sealing 2 ponds. I placed an order for a few hundred bare root shrubs and trees this week so we're going to be busy this spring!
jason strayhorn


Joined: Jan 31, 2014
Posts: 16
Ok...so i mentioned a meetup. I am looking to get a bit more serious so i started a thread about it. go over there post your location and days/times that are best for you...then we can all make a decision on where to meet. I suggest maybe a lunch or something.

http://www.permies.com/t/33169/southern-usa/North-alabama-meetup#258901

Hope to see you guys soon.
 
 
subject: Alone in Alabama? An Introduction.
 
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