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Hi and bring it on!

brett watson

Joined: Apr 18, 2011
Posts: 100
Location: Northern California Zone 8b
Ok, I am a newbie to both this site and to a more than glancing look at permaculture in practice. I have really enjoyed looking through the forums and subsequent links to glean some ideas that my wife and I can use. However, I am not entirely sure where to start with this whole thing, the obvious being that we would love to practice more sustainable living/permaculture on our property for the sake of living better (I didn' say easier) and possibly getting more income from our place.
So, I am asking for any and all advice and see where this goes. I don't mind "talking" with you about anything just please don't try to make me feel guilty about things we might do or be more inclined to do more than others. Make sense?

Here are the particulars:
10 acres, somewhat hilly, we probably use about 2 acres of it for our animals
We have cross-fenced the top @2 acres to make 3 pastures, we are hoping to make smaller paddocks within these pastures to run the sheep and chickens through for more rotational, intensive grazing
We have sheep that we use primarily for meat (Sorry not a Vegan)
We have chickens we are breeding for meat and eggs as well as insect control
We raise some rabbits for meat
We raise dogs
We raise parakeet, cockatiels, and doves
We have seriously hot summers (one day we were the hottest place on earth at 120)
We have made 3 ponds that don't hold the water very well so we don't utilize them too much accept for spring water for the animals.

That's it for now, I'm sure I am missing a whole bunch of helpful information I just want to get this out there and get some ideas from y'all.

Thanks in advance.

practice peace
rose macaskie

Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
I like the love extravagantly, though i don't know if it fits in with the, live simply. rose.
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
one thing I might be able to help with is the ponds..likely they aren't deep enough and they are drying out from summer heat and evaporation..do you  KNOW where your water table is below the ground? If there is a water table fairly near the surface if you dig deeper than the water table you are likely to keep more water in your ponds making them more useful.

we had a shallow pond (less than 3' deep) and it dried out every July/August..we however, dug deeper and now the deepest areas hold water year around, although the very shallow areas still dry out there is always some wet pond areas..last year we dug even deeper and now it is really fulll so we'll see how it works this year..see blog

sounds like you have a good start


Bloom where you are planted.
brett watson

Joined: Apr 18, 2011
Posts: 100
Location: Northern California Zone 8b
Ha, rose macaskie, I can see where the word extravagantly can lend to a sense of materialism.

Brenda Groth, thanks. Our water table is pretty far down there. We live on the edge of an ancient lava flow that has built up into plains. We live amongst blue oaks and are atop this rolly, hilly landscape. Our well was dug decades ago and I have the paperwork that says how deep it is, which I can't remember right now but is maybe around the 160' range.
Our one pond is atop this little draw and it holds water for a while, however, it doesn't last past beginning of June barring any unprecedented rain. It is under 3'. The one below it in the draw is deeper, probably around 7'-8', is not very wide, surface area when full is probably @ 225 sq. ft. and it drains out fast, within two weeks of filling. SO my biggest deal will be trying to seal the ponds. I read some about how the "gley" method, which is what I am going to try to do minus the pig shit, I'm just not sure how best to do it, what materials to use, timing, and so on.
John Polk

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6898
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
Hopefully that will solve the problem for you.  You probably do not want to dig it deeper, as anything over an acre, or 8 feet deep, the Army corp of Engineers will want to come in and tell you what to do, and how to manage it.
brett watson

Joined: Apr 18, 2011
Posts: 100
Location: Northern California Zone 8b
I definitely don't want to dig it deeper and I definitely don't want "the man" involved in what I am doing.

As far as a "gley" goes, does it sound reasonable to just begin lining it with organic debris when it is empty and just keep gradually adding it?
rose macaskie

Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
rather surf i though love extravagantly refered to the amount of love you throw around not the amount of money you throw around to those you love.
   I used to understand the anti materialism message untill i found out it played in to the hands of the right rather than the left and then i stopped understanding it.
  the so called materialistic countries also stick out for less pronounced classism, their poor get an education that takes them out of the complete ignorance htat used to leave the poor in such a humbling position. or for giving medical care to the poor or houseing or social security the welfaRE STATE SEEMS TO MILACROSLY MAKE COUT¡NTRIES RICH. Yoyu will say at the expense of poor countries i say that they used to have empires and the poor in european countries stayed very poor.
  I THINK THAT THE POOR COUNTRIES ARE POOR BECAUSE THOSE WHO GO TO HELP THEIR DO IT WITH VICTORIAN VALUES TEACH THE NATIVES TO READ AND WIRTE BUT NOT TO BE LAWYERS AND ECONOMIIST Aabnd such a country need a lot of high¡y skilled workers or it does not work especially if they have the political organisation colonialism left in these countries and we taught them to produce for the world market we put them inot hte mnodern world a¡without the instruments to handlle it.
  materialism non materialism is just new word for rich and poor , and we all know how those who loved poverty breed it before, how their praise of humility and poverty stopped the poor for asking for more kept them in their place but did not change the attitudes of the rich. They had to change the wording to  get people to swallow the old story that was in the past so disatrouse for the poor.
      Good sounding things always serve bullies. the mafia is full of moralistic phrases you have to help the family for instance. ç

      I  have been criticised for talking about education for the poor on the liv¡nes oh so you think you are better than them they are fine as they are arrogant b·"t*+. agri rose macaskie.
rose macaskie

Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
the anti materialist brigade here in europe are the group that are so artfull they manage to get a reputation for morall and anti materialist while they also make  peoplle vote for the unsavoury and dishons¡est supporter of the rich Berlusconi in italy and his ilk in SPain. it is i know how to say one thing and do another better than anyone else in the world, they are the artfull dodgers to beat all artfull dodgers. they are the experts at ¡blackening their detractors so i will get it in the teeth. agri rose macaskie.
Troy Rhodes

Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 417

What's your soil like?  I'm guessing not a huge percentage of clay.  Sep Holzer uses a technique when he digs a pond of picking the soil off the bottom (when there's some water in it) and dropping it, stomping around on it (with a machine/bucket).  I think this allows the larger and coarser chunks to go deeper, and the finest clay stuff to sift down last and form a sealing layer, as opposed to the clay being evenly disbursed through the soil.

If you have access to bentonite clay, it can often be used to help seal a pond.  Well drillers use it, if that helps you locate some.  The cheapest cat litter is generally made of an expansive clay material that may work as well.

Meat eaters are welcome here.  We have permission from God and hey, THEY TASTE GOOD!  Everything dies in the end, and your animals can die with a purpose.

Have you watched any of the Joel Salatin youtube stuff?  He's a huge proponent of animals on pasture for the benefit of both.  He's very inspiring as well.

Good luck and have fun!


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
solarguy2003 wrote:

What's your soil like?  I'm guessing not a huge percentage of clay.  Sep Holzer uses a technique when he digs a pond of picking the soil off the bottom (when there's some water in it) and dropping it, stomping around on it (with a machine/bucket).  I think this allows the larger and coarser chunks to go deeper, and the finest clay stuff to sift down last and form a sealing layer, as opposed to the clay being evenly disbursed through the soil.


Vibroflotation. In sepps book which im currently reading he likens it to the process commonly done with cement. i have seen this done a million time and can't see why it wouldn't work with the tool we used, *as long as the method works in general. we used what we called a vibrator, which as u might have guessed looks like a large vibrator. dont giggle.

as we poured the concrete we would stick it in in short bursts. it was connected to a gas powered generator, and had a backpack with a motor. i'm sure if you contact local construction companies that pour foundations (road work was my industry) you could probably find someone to rent one and give it a shot and let us know. a lot cheaper than rending a backhoe.

i imagine if the water is leaking the top levels of soil are certainly not impermeable and the vibrator should be allowed as deep into these levels as it wants to go. give it a shot and let us know
brett watson

Joined: Apr 18, 2011
Posts: 100
Location: Northern California Zone 8b
solarguy2003, our soil is somewhat clayish. In the draw that the two ponds are in that I am most concerned with I believe it's the clay in the upper pond that allows it to hold water for as long as it does. The lower pond has much more large-ish rocks in it and that's what I think is lending to the quick seepage. I am going to apply various biomaterials and then go down, when it's wet, with the kids and our muckers and have a stomp party while I start pulling some of the rocks out. The sheep and llama don't get into the lower pond too much because when it starts drying up they just drink out of the upper pond.

boddah, it's so funny that you bring up that vibrator. I had a job once working as a pile buck's assistant where one of the things I had to do was run that vibrator when they were pouring concrete down the deep foundation piles. By the end of that summer I had forearms like Popeye. I think I'll try the stomping first with adding material and then maybe go that route.

Thanks everyone. This conversation is giving me a lot of ideas.
rose macaskie

Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
I  dont know if I explained myself well when i said that those who spend a lot of time calling people materialists then do for the wellfare state which is to say that part of the west that is best for the poor.
        I used to listen a bit sadly to how materialist we all were and i took it in, I did not just refuse to believe that this is the case because saying we are materialist attacks our vanity and is painful, which is in this case to say  to say shaming an attack on our ego it means we are less than perfect. Sad things are also painful we feel the loss of a person maybe psyciatry calls all sorts of different pains pain and tha tmakes it hard to understand what they are talking about.  I  believed we are materialist, our business men do buy products from the poorer countries too cheap i knew it was true and that. Our materialism has a bad effect on others.
    I wished that those who called everyone materialist would notice the many among our population who are kind to others and who work very hard for their children and are nice to their neighbors but still i did not see any reason to attack the anti materialsists for  anything else, only for calling all members of rich countries populations materialist instead of attacking the really mean. . I suppose that that  the anti materialist exagerate is a pretty big reason to attack them those who exagerate the faults of others do a lot of harm. Keeping things exact is important.

      Later i found that the religiouse groups that were so given to calling people materialist were getting their population to vote for the right, it is not a theory it is that i have seen it, ht ereligiouse are the bastion of the right in many countries  and they are one of the groups who say that we in the west are materialists and who spend most time emphasising this, and they are the ones that vote for the right in the south of europe. It is also, in great part, the religiouse who vote for the right in north america and i dare say the religiouse also call everyone materialists in North america. 
      The right though it says that it will help the poor by helping the economy, has more of a record of gnawing away at the public health service and government schooling the trade unions and it is to be suposed they might do for things like the minimum wage and if people are poor with a minimum wage historically without one they were much poorer. So if you vote for them you really do for the poor or the future poor who may not be todays poor, th ereligiouse groups say we are good we have kitchens that feed the poor if you give soup to the poor with one hand and vote for the right with the other you are not helping th epoor you aer doing for them though you pretend to help them with your hand outs.

      Those who talk about materialism also undo the welfare state by keeping the idea that the rich countries are materialists so to the fore that people begin to forget all the social advantages the poor have won in these countries and only remember that they are the rich countries and so they forget to defend all the things that most benefit the poor, the things that other countries need.
        Maybe good trade unions in Africa would lead to the africans pressurising the a buyers to give the right price for their goods and gettign that fair price. If this happened then the canny from rich countries could no longer rip of poor countries. An education that brought up the general level of learning to graduate level would help trade unions to do this. A ninteenth century level of education, hte sort the charitable hand out, a “these good people need to learn to read and write and that will do for them because they are simple country folks”, level of education such as the charitable seem to think adequate does not help people in a country that is so big that it needs a lot of civil servants and that has an economy based on exports so is of necessity part of the modern world. .
        It is a sign af the success of the welfare state that all the countries that have it should be rich. England had an empire before the welfare state existed or before it worked well and the empire did not  make eglands poor rich.

    The religiouse groups here dont believe in schoooling, at least they are not very keen on higher education, most especially on humanities, they are always trying to do down literature to me and for me it was people like Harriet Beecher Stowe who did for slavery and Dickens and other writers who made people aware of poverty and and how it was so bad that something had to be done to stop it. It was writers and thinkers not preechers who did for the worst social abuses.

    A neighbor of mine here in Spain, who is a journalist for the right here, says educatoin lowers the possibility of giving advantages to the best students and so  having a country with a good porcentage of really talented peoplle in it .
      It is easy enough to state something like that it sounds reasonable but though there used to be a few good writers here in spainin the past when education was a priveledge for the few, i dont believe that the overall balance of talented people number of doctors lawyers good journalist etc., was high in the past i think it is higher now and much higher, so reality does not bare out his areguement.

      It is shocking to find that those who pretend to be charitable are behaving in a way that will turn back the clock to times when the poor were even poorer than they are now and that by a mile, a lot poorer not a bit poorer and a lot more ignorant than now. 
        keeping the poor very ignorant allowed richer peole to converse with them in  away that was very humiliating, to go over their heads all the time. Thet
ignorance of the poor  allowed the rich and powerfull to count them out of all important discussions. There are people so little habituated to talking that they can hardly get out a sentence much as their idea of things might be valid, they have too little practice expressing themselves to take part in important discussions that effect their lives.

      There are those who deny that you can think without vocabulary it is wrong to think you cant think without vocabulary a film is often little more than a collection of situations and you can remember what situation lead to what result it is incredible how little words there are in some films. You can think without words, if you see someone eaten by a lion you can remember that scene even if you dont know the words to explain
  it and you will always know that lions eat people.
        It is so shocking for me to see this sort of meanesss from those who make such a fuss out of being good that was hard to acknowledge that this was happening even to myself and it is  harder to talk about it. There are many religiouse people who are very given to looking kind because they spend so much time criticising others for materialism or any other type of meaness, who do give out sandwhiches to the poor and do then get all their followers to vote for the right and that not a moderate right but a right who shows everysign of doing for higher education for all. Education for all is called “equal opportunity” by the polititians.
      doing for everything that is part of modern states and that the part of them that makes them states where the poor arent too miserably poor is not good. 
    One arguement of these moralists is that things in the past were better, we were less materialist in the past, not even ppeople like christ have got rid of materialism, things like that stay pretty much the same in all times. These moralistic groups depend on people’s short memory when they say that things in the past were better, things in the past were horrible for some sections of society and poverty does not make people nicer it makes the jungle more needy which tend sto make things more violent. Thhose who pretend that hte past was better depend on distorting the character of the poor, they depend on  their ability to lie to pretend that things were spiritualy  better before. And liers know tha tpeople will distrust their memory if people in authority talk in a sure enough voice and can be lied to. agri rose macaskie.
rose macaskie

Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
  sepp holzer does have rocks in his ponds, they are part of his use of ponds to change the micro climate, rocks in the water would heat up in the sun and heat the water in the pond. Water it self does not heat in sunlight as water is transperent sunlight goes right through it without heating it, it is the power of the swiming pool walls to heat in the sun tha theats the water in the pools and if the walls were black they would heat more black absorbes all the light. So it is best if you can have rocks in your pond.
      Water will heat if you place a hot object in it so if the rocks in a pond heat they will heat the water. 
        As sepp holzer lives in the alpes he is usualy tryign to make things hotter instead of colder. His ponds relfect the sunrays back up into the landsccape to heat the surrondings of the pond, as the reflector in a solar oven heats the food in you oven by reflecting the sun at it so it is receiving direct sunlight and sunlight reflected at it from many sides. Rocks in the ponds heat in the sun and the hot rocks heat the water in the ponds.
    That sepp uses the ponds to create a microclimate might mean that he needs the`ponds to be there all the year round rather than as seasonal ponds, if they dried up his lemon tree might not produce lemons.

  They used a vibrator that looked something like that big nmetal  pole that is used when people are building roads, the pole of metal they stick in rocks to make them crack and get the rock face to crumble up so they can drive the road through the hill, to vibrate the sand and make it shake down in the palm islands they built in Dubai, to turn the sand into a material you could build on. I saw a document on mega structures about it. agri rose macaskie.
brett watson

Joined: Apr 18, 2011
Posts: 100
Location: Northern California Zone 8b
I think I understand your point about materialism. I am, however, trying to live more simply and frugally, while teaching my children that they don't need to rely on systems of credit to have a full life and they can live in ways to don't have any negative impacts upon others (in fact learning to do things and live so it benefits others) or the environment. I am not perfect at it and I was not brought up this way myself, so I am learning as I go.

I live in a hot climate 3 - 5 months out of the year so I don't need the rocks in there to keep the water warm, and the absence of the rocks will make it easier to trudge around in there. I don't need the ponds to be there year 'round, but I would like them to last longer than they do so I can have water for my animals. The ponds would eventually evaporate without my adding water to them. If I could get them to last I would be adding, at least, mosquito fish to them.

Joined: Apr 19, 2011
Posts: 114
Location: South Carolina Zone 8
I think you may have mistaken ground water table with potable water source. You may need to dig down a little more getting into and below the ground water table. In other words during the driest part of the year dig a hole and see at what point you get to wet material coming out the hole. With any luck you may even have water fill the hole. What it sounds like though is you have literally a very deep water table and are relying solely on rain/runoff to fill your ponds. In this case ponds that are 3' or even 8' deep are not very deep and can even if you had a waterproof liner they can simply dry out in the dry months of the year.

BTW while I hate to involve any government agency the Army Core of Engineers is not as big an evil as many other agencies. They can be hard to deal with but they also may be willing to assist you in many ways. Given as you only have 10 acres and it sounds like you are making less than 1 acre ponds though it would be best to keep them out of it.
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subject: Hi and bring it on!