George, thank you for bringing this to our attention! I think that many of us will be willing to submit some comments, and that we can continue to develop those comments on this thread. Goodness knows we don't need "more of the same," from USDA.
Jay, I would be willing to take you up on your offer to share your writing skills and create even more compelling copy. I think if we give our fellow permies some choices, they can craft their own responses (and might be more eager to do so).
I would like to reference Gabe Brown and Joel Salatin in my response. (I'm going to look up the most appropriate citations for each.) Both are creative, innovative, and can speak to farmers from a highly credible position.
It's often hard to get a photograph to tell the story correctly, isn't it? They are beautiful, even if we have to imagine the depth and shine.
I was thinking about your comments on that, and wondering if you should put the kernels in clear glasses (wineglasses? champagne flutes?) and photograph the sun shining through them. (I'm kidding. A bit. Maybe.)
They are beautiful birds! As a chicken keeper, I am wary of them, though.
I think the seagulls were waiting for leftovers. The crows, though - crows often harass hawks. I've heard it's because they are protecting their young, but your crows seemed to be doing it (1) just on principle? (2) out of solidarity with the pigeon? or (likely) (3) because the hawk was messing with their territory.
The crow stories give me encouragement, though, because we have crows around here that scream as a group from time to time. I'm hoping they're yelling at one of our local hawks to go hunt a little further away.
I think this would be very worthwhile. I have been attempting to raise several perennial vegetables from seed this year, and found it very challenging. I have scoured the internet for hints and success/failure stories, and shared some of this information on Permies. How great if that sort of information were collected and organized!
Anya, thanks for the link. Interesting! Sometimes all that's needed is to take an interest, and I can learn something!
It's too bad you have to abandon your plans for the green roof and the constructed wetland. I think it's hard to make a green roof that is slanted adequately for the snow, though. Better you can't grow plants overhead than the roof come down on top of you when it has 3 feet of snow followed by a long rain! Maybe your garden shed can have a green roof!
Wow! Lots of goals! What a dream. I have dreams like that, somewhat, and I'm 67. But I have a few acres and big gardens, second year in.
I might have missed it, but do you have gardening experience? Logging? Building? Do you have any heavy equipment for clearing the woods? (Except for gardening, I don't have any of those, so I modify my dream to account for that. But I'm old compared to you!)
I think I might decide what I will need to (1) live there, (2) pay the balloon payment, (3) get going on self-sufficiency. For me, this would mean creating some sort of shelter, with a composting toilet and a gray water plan. I would make a plan to save money for the big $$ payment, or figure out how to earn more. Finally (and soon), I would try to get some perennials and fruit trees started - how great if they are already there, working for you, when you are able to live on the land! Perhaps planting (or just over-spreading seed) of some sort of cover crop in an area where you would hope to start a garden, to begin to get the soil ready.
I guess I could sum it up by saying you can look at your list, and then set some priorities! Hah! I could have said the whole thing quickly!
This IS pretty magical! It might solve my drought problems. We have lots of water around here, but not all that convenient to the gardens. And during a drought, we wonder how long the well will hold up.
I LOVE ground cherries! They were self-seeding annually in my yard, and I finally began paying attention! Now I transplant some from the yard, grow some from seed, and woodchip around the ones left in the yard. Who needs grass when you can have ground cherries?
Scott Stiller wrote:Thanks Anne. I’m hoping they’ll want me to throw some permaculture design wisdom their way in the future. The land that we’re giving them was to be the start of my permaculture farm. We spent 4K getting the land cleared and adding a three foot tall swale on contour around the south/southeastern side of it. I had planted fruit and nut trees at the base of the swale and everything else on every surface! It was really shaping up. A full eight acres dropping from towards the south and my home. I had dreams of a Sepp Holzer’s farm transplanted here on my land. Once the decision was made to bring family in we tried to get them down towards our home. It wasn’t to be. My farm’s starting spot was the only place that would perk. Kind of makes me sad to think of it. Ugh. Wish I hadn’t have gone there.
That's a very sad story, but . . . you have started it, and you're hoping they may continue it. You never know. Once one of them is diagnosed with diabetes, it would be a good idea to start eating differently! Or any one of so many ailments. I'm sorry you can't farm your land. Thank goodness you can grow those vegetables, and try to interest others in good food!
For many of us, this is the story of our lives. Unappreciative family members ignoring wholesome, home-grown food for [poison] fare from the gas station. This story is terribly discouraging, but so common. Sorry you are experiencing it!
Take heart, though! Often with age comes more wisdom! If not from the next generation, perhaps from that little granddaughter. I actually experienced my sister-in-law making fun of me for serving the kids vegs and dip. She laughed and "offered" some to her teenage son. Later I had the last laugh, as the bowl was empty. And now, the kids in that family (married adults now) and my sister-in-law recognize the importance of good food and are picky about what they eat. That former teenage boy might still eat chips and burgers, but his wife is known for her massive salads that include an abundance of different vegetables!
My daughter went to culinary school to study pastry and became an excellent chef. But later went back to college, obtained a graduate degree in foreign relations, and works in non-profits. She is an excellent cook and can still whip up a great dessert, but her evening meals are vegetable-heavy, well-prepared, and delicious.
I hope yours come around. Plant and pick for your own enjoyment, and live it up!
As you imagined, Vermonters are going to have a moment imagining your flat roof. A way to build almost as simply could be with a shed roof - simply higher on one side (ideally the south) and lower on the other. This increases your solar gain, insulates you further against the north, and solves some of the leaking/ice dam/load-bearing issues you'll encounter with a flat roof.
Have you looked at the building code in the town? Do it before you get too far along, so you don't do many hours of work only to face great disappointment.
John C Daley wrote: I guess you need to build keeping on mind the locals.
Most of us think about thieves or dogs, not bears.
Is it possible to design and build in such a manner the bears cannot damage things.
Of course that means stronger and smarter design, no loose bins, heavier chook sheds.
Is it possible?
Everyone tells me that the real solution is an electric fence!
We have reinforced the chicken coop, but keep any smelly garbage in the freezer, adding it last to the bin before we go to the dump. For some reason, they don't get into my compost pile, so the amount of garbage in the freezer is small! I do think it might be hard to keep an outdoor kitchen from attracting bears, though. Scrupulous cleaning, and as you point out, clever design!
I should note that most of my neighbors have outdoor grills. But after two incidents, I continue to feel like our solution is best. Maybe something small enough to lock in the house? My partner just built the garage, and he is reluctant to store any bear attractants there. When they want to break in, they can cause a lot of damage, even if they don't get in.
Oh! Wool felt shutters sound really warm. On the other hand, with a rocket mass heater you might want some drafts. <wink> I love divided-light windows, too. Our house has those fake muntins, which periodically get caught when we open windows and breaking.
I just watched the video about Emma. (Thanks, John!) It takes my wish to live more simply to a higher degree, but it's not what I envision for myself. That could have something to do with my age (67) and arthritis.
But I love seeing what others are doing! I do dream of being off grid, probably with solar. We heat 90% with wood, but a wood cookstove would make sense off-grid. (Or propane, I guess.) And in the weather we are having this weekend, an outdoor kitchen looks better and better! I don't even have a grill outside because we have had two unhappy encounters with bears. One broke (and I mean broke) into my porch after the garbage can, which it dragged outdoors through a window creating the loudest racket that has ever awakened me! The other tore open the chicken coop and made off with one of my chickens. I am hesitant to do anything that might give them ideas.
I have some clay but only in one section (a very wet section). I wouldn't describe our winters as "wet" - more like "frozen" and "snow-covered." Although wet has been known to happen. My instructions for planting say to keep these in pots (1 gallon) for the first year, as they are slow to establish. I'm just puzzling about what medium to plant them in when they sprout.
I found wollastonite in an art-supply online store for USD $15. It's used to extend pigments - above my art knowledge. (I do know my colors, though.) Maybe I'll get some. If I do, the dang stuff had better grow!
Only one of mine is long enough to feed through the trellis, which I did today. I suppose they can just go right through and trail along the wood chip path between the beds. If they go the other direction, they'll run right into cherry tomatoes and basil!