There is a design that looks quite reasonable for a possible freezer in John Hait's book "Passive Annual Heat Storage" which Paul's wofati draws from. No doubt to achieve the potential of "freaky cheap" Paul seems to have removed the air exchange tubes entirely from Hait's design, which seems an important element of the system. At the end of the book he suggests reversing the grade of the pipes to achieve the storage of cold, and it seems brilliant to me. I am hoping soon to build some buildings based on Hait's design, with some nods at the wofati and hope to try the freezer as well, though my climate may be too warm to achieve real freezing.
I think you could indeed drill and anchor bolts into the bedrock, and a friend of mine I respect mentioned a particular stone adhesive that he says is incredibly strong, or concrete or some other bonding agent.
Or perhaps you could use a rock hammer to create holes in the ground to sink the posts and backfill with tamped gravel? It wouldn't have any drainage if you did that but all the posts would be well covered all around by the umbrella.
Either way that would take a looooot of fill dirt to fill the umbrella and then cover it up.
Well written post, I like anything that brings attention to permaculture. I certainly think grazing animals for dairy and meat is a tremendously important foundational leg of permaculture, building on Allen Savory and Joel Salatin and such. I think a wonderful combination of grazing with the food forest is the use of close-planted diverse hedgerows as fences between paddocks, in the big open areas, they could be three trees wide with a row in the center of overstory and going down in stature on each side, and far enough apart to make big paddocks and allow plenty of light, and provide shade and some fodder for some animals.
The Big Bend Community Land Trust is a young non-profit organization engaged in a fairly extreme permaculture demonstration project. We are building a public you-pick permaculture MAZE, initially structured out of hugelkulture beds, planted in a wild and mixed (very Holzer inspired) style. This will be called the "Wilderness Garden Maze", with currently three finished and growing and one unplanted large hugels already.
We have an opening for a farm manager. This position entails the selection, collection and processing of seeds to develop varieties of everything on the farm best adapted to our methods and environment, also the assesment of plants as weeds and the removal of weeds where appropriate. It includes the management of volunteers and the public in harvesting of all manner of vegetables and fruits from this farm, and the processing and preservation of such, as well as manging volunteers in other projects on the farm (we regularly have wwoofers and such coming through and the manager will need to make sure they are organized into some productivity). Additionally the position also entails the management of chickens and possibly other livestock, including rotating animals through a our developing paddock shift system and harvesting eggs and eventually chickens.
The ideal candidate for the farm manager position has a deep knowledge and experience in permaculture, and is interested working with some very large-scale and extreme permaculture techniques and approaches, such as hugelkulture, paddock shift, and extreme polyculture, among others. The manager should have a strong interest in plants and their breeding, and will be responsible for seed selection and propogation.
We also have an opening for an experienced grant-writer, who can work entirely on developing funding relationships, promotion, seeking out grants and applying for them. We have been mostly focused on our work on the ground and really need someone who knows this world to work with us.
Our initial project is still under construction and we are still developing funding sources, so as yet all positions are unpaid. However, the manager and grant-writer will be living in the house on the property (along with various volunteers), have all utilities paid and significant food costs subsidized, as well as access to all the food from the farm. Due to the volunteer nature of these positions, we expect less than full time, though a significant 25 - 30 hours / week.
We are located in a very small rural town in the southern Cascades with only one store, a school, and a post office. There is good swimming, fishing and a some nice and available hot springs.
We are looking for people who are passionate about permaculture and can really appreciate what we're trying to do and willing to work hard to help make it happen. If you are interested, please read more about us at http://bigbendclt.org and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have formed a non-profit organization in a small rural northern California town and are organizing a big push for springtime to complete the first acre of our WILDERNESS GARDEN MAZE, a large garden constructed of hugelkulture beds! This will be a public space where people can come, harvest food and connect with the natural world.
We have a couple of beds already, which did phenomenally last season and this spring we are organizing an effort to complete the entire first acre and get it open to the public! If anyone is interested in volunteering for this push starting in March and going probably through April and possibly into May, we will be putting volunteers up in a nice house and feeding them well, and the whole team will be working hard to get this incredible project off the ground.
Tasks will include working with equipment (we will have a 20 ton excavator with TILTROTATOR, a dump truck and skidsteer for collecting wood for the hugels, a backhoe with auger bit for drilling fence post holes, and a pick-up truck for collecting flat stones for pathways), plumbing, shovel work, mulching, planting and more!
Just wanted to show off the enormous stone wall we just finished yesterday. It retains the hillside next to our absolutely overbuilt and incredible clivus-multrum-style outhouse which is engineered to be partially earth-sheltered.
The wall was built with the pictured excavator and newly installed TILTROTATOR! It's taken quite a learning curve, but I'm really getting the hang of it now. We've even got a grapple for it, which grabs logs and moderately sized rocks wonderfully at damn near any angle at all!
The first hugelbeet I built was in the shape of a circle with a small opening on one side, kinda like a horseshoe. We're in a pretty dry climate with a fair bit of wind on that site, and I've noticed that some of the areas on it are doing vastly better than other areas. Also, as I built another one, where the one shelters the other, the growth improves, so I'm thinking that wind breaking is going to be key with hugelbeet.
With the squirrel issue though, this may not be the best technique for your site. The tool of Sepp Holzer for you that sounds more appropriate is the crater garden and the high bed, often made in conjunction. This would serve to get down in the ground, as well as create a wind block above, eh?
Okay, wow, what a thread. I have to chime in a little bit. I read that quote in Sepp's book, which is rather WITHOUT context, just a caption on a picture of broken greenhouse panels, not really explaining exactly what he means, as he often doesn't!
Sepp DOES have a greenhouse. This came up in some questions he was asked at his workshop in Montana last spring. He is NOT completely ANTI-GREENHOUSE. He is PRO EXPERIMENTATION AND TRYING THINGS OUT. He uses his greenhouse for various experiments whenever he feels it's appropriate. Over all, if I interpret him correctly, he thinks that for the most part, direct mixed seeding is a more effective overall solution than all this tedious planting things in greenhouses and transplanting them out again. I believe that even in his EXTREMELY cold climate (what zone is he in, 2? 3?), he has found that direct mixed-seeding WORKS for him, since he develops his plants generation by generation to tolerate and like that. He says things like "don't pamper you're plants!".
At the workshop, it was March and we were in Montana and we were planting lots and lots of seeds into the freshly made hugels-beds. Marisha asked him directly: "There will be more frosts for certain, isn't it too early to be planting these cucumber (and other tender type) seeds?!" His answer was essentially: "plants aren't so dumb as to come up before it's time! trust nature!"
Now, I bet there is truth to both of them. SOME of those plants might come up early and die, but the ones that wait and come up a bit later and survive will be hardier, and that site will be selecting for that trait, and year after year as you plant those seeds, that will be less and less of a problem. That way, instead of the labor-intensive replanting, he can just cast his seed mix every spring fairly early. So in summary, he's not anti-greenhouse, just pro direct-seeding (IMOO).
I have been reading the fantastic book on grazing and more called Holistic Management by Allen Savory. I highly recommend it to anyone, even those not engaged in land management, but especially those that are. I found it quite insightful and helpful.
Fantastic on the terraces. I certainly plan to put those in as well, particularly on our other site here on the mountainside. The flatter site is a downtown property that we've bought as a forming non-profit with some others in town. In less than a week I am going to make my big proposal for the slow but steady development of the place. I am quite excited, we even have an excavator to do the big work!
Here on the mountainside, it is incredibly rocky, but I do plan to make lots and lots of terraces. And I have already begun planting fruit (and nut) trees, at both properties!
Thanks for your insights! Your system sounds wonderfully developed. Indeed I think you are correct that your climate is much like Sepp's at the Krameterhoff, though he may be at higher elevation. Rather less "brittle", it seems. I get the impression Sepp's summers are fairly wet.
I, on the other hand, am dealing with a highly brittle climate here in Cascadia. Though our winters are MUCH milder (rarely below the teens F, and usually t-shirt weather for much of the winter, as it is today, a fair bit of snow, but fast to melt more and more every day. The 6 feet or so we got a month and a half ago is almost completely gone in most places here), our summers are completely dry and hot, with absolutely no precipitation from around May/June to around Sep/Oct, and almost no humidity at all.
Dealing with a mostly flat terrain, I'm going to make a lot of enormous (12' ish tall and with the wood starting a foot or two into the ground) hugel beds and (hopefully) they will effectively hold moisture through the summers. We'll be getting our first pigs this spring, and I'll see how it goes.
John Polk, I am curious what breed of pigs were those that were sporting on your chickens?
I, too, am planning to try pigs and chickens together (with roosts and nesting boxes up high in the barn along the walls, with the main area there for the pigs. I figure pigs won't want chickens DIRECTLY above them shitting on them while they roost) in a rotational scheme. I'm designing barns specifically to house both, and my basic plan involves one small barn at the hub between each four paddocks, with the entire system comprising six of these barns, 24 paddocks, each 1/2 acre each.
I attempted to ask him some of these very important questions last spring in Montana at the 11 days with Sepp course. Though my question may not have come out quite as I wanted it through the translator, he basically answered: "Ask the paddock, ask the pigs, next question."
Admittedly I found this answer a bit disappointing, though I do get the point, that the answers will depend on the maturity and diversity of the vegetation in your paddock. He implies in his second book that he makes his paddocks quite large, I'm guessing more than an acre even. Also, he does very briefly mention in his second book (in the section on pigs) a density range which seems QUITE low to me, I believe it was 3 - 12 pigs per hectare.
Though I will attempt to get more information out of him specifically about his paddock system at the Krameterhoff, I am planning a paddock shift system with 24 paddocks of a 1/2 acre each, with 6 four-doored earth-sheltered barns acting as hubs between them (one barn for each 4 paddocks), and the whole thing totaling about about 12 acres. Additionally I am planning to maximize my diversity by using Holzer-style mixed seed broadcasting, but with some strips of "field crops" (grains, legumes, mustard, etc) between hugel beds with a total mix of all plants on them.
I'm hopeful that this will be robust enough to be successful, and am even suspicious I'll eventually be able to have higher densities of pigs, with somewhat shorter rotation durations (he doesn't say in his book how long he leaves them, but I get the impression it's a fair while) I'm also planning on chickens accompanying the pigs.
We, too, would very much like a detailed topographic map of our site. Especially since the terrain is very very complex and convoluted. I suspect that making this map using traditional surveying methods will be unrealistically time consuming (though this book sounds very interesting, and I plan to get a hold of it!) for our large property, so we are considering using a technology called "LIDAR" which makes a topo map from data gathered via airplane flying over the site. I found a paper reporting a study that was done testing it's acuracy, which is remarkably high even in dense canopy (which me mostly have). The 40' topo lines that are available to us are simply not tight enough to do much real planning in this complex terrain.
However, for another site I'm working on, this data might be sufficient, and I am struggling to figure out a GIS program, and get that data into it from the web. If anyone has experience with QGIS or other open source mapping program, I would very much appreciate a little guidance!
I heard that podcast as well, and here is how I plan to mediate that concern in my particular paddock configuration!
My plan (still in development) currently involves 7 earth sheltered animal barns, each surrounded by four paddocks of approximately 1/2 acre each, adding up to 28 paddocks totaling approximately 14 acres. I am planning to have both pigs and chickens together, moving from paddock to paddock and barn to barn, though I do expect that there might be a slightly higher level of impact in the area surrounding each barn, the system will be quite large, and so the area around and inside each barn will still get significant rest. This system will have no "sacrificial" areas as Paul described them in that podcast either, with a lot of flexibility available as to the order of rotation, as from in each barn, one of four paddocks can be selected, or from any paddock, one of several adjacent paddocks can be selected.
The entire area of this paddock system is going to be encompassing a "maze" of very large hugel beds of the Sepp Holzer style, with a very diverse polyculture on all the hugels. There will be wide paths (10' - 12' wide), some of which containing a few "field crops" (such as grains, legumes, etc) in strips between the hugels. I am currently in the process of planning this system and acquiring a nice big excavator to build it with! I'm even getting a tiltrotator to make digging curvy trenches and accurately placing the hugel logs much quicker and easier.
Referencing back to the original poster's question as to pig density, I think Sepp's reply would be to "ask the paddock", meaning to judge the answer to this question by the diversity and maturity of the vegetation in the paddock. In his second book, he references a quite small range of animal density, which (if I recall correctly) 2 - 12 pigs per hectare. I expect to start with relatively few animals and increase them over time as the maturity of the system allows. With as many paddocks as I plan to have in my system, I hope to be able to (eventually!) increase the density of the animals fairly significantly because the length of time they remain in each paddock can be so low.
luke allen wrote:We have a question about how much area the pigs need in a paddock shift system.
We are planing on building a small pig animal shelter, like in Sepp Holzers Permaculture, the simple dugout shelter with trees accross it for the roof, in each of the 5 paddocks. Any thoughts on this.
In the paddock shift system that I am planning, I am also considering multiple animal shelters (barns) so that the pigs have access to them in all paddocks and rotation can be made simpler. However, since I am on a fairly flat terrain, I am planning to have paddocks with multiple doors in a "wagon wheel" type configuration. I am planning on four doors in each barn, each accessing different paddocks, this allows for far fewer barns (4 paddocks per barn rather than one). Perhaps this notion could save you some construction as well?
My location is a very Mediterranean climate here in the mountains of norther California. We have winters, and a fair bit of snow, but they are mild and mostly sunny, with melting temperatures almost every day most of the winter, and then very hot and dry summers. In a hope of effectively dealing with these dry summers, I am working on a hugelkultur based project. Though it isn't entirely relevant to my question, this project is actually a MAZE of hugelbeds (large ones, about 12' tall, though because of the soil type, not extremely steep, ending up about 50 degrees mostly), with paths about 12' wide. Of course, in Sepp style, fundamental to the design of the maze is the planned regular disturbance of animals, section by section. Since I expect the planned pigs and chickens to readily climb up over the hugelbeds, I am planning to put in fencing, diving the maze into a series of paddocks. This fencing will be primarily along the ridges of the hugelbeds, with of course some of the fencing crossing the paths with gates.
Putting fencing along the ridge of the hugelbeds involves some certain logistical challenges. Particularly, fence posts will not readily be able to be added after the hugels are built, so the fence posts will need to be put in as the hugels are built, possibly just barely in the ground, or even on the ground with the wood of the hugels piles around the posts. And of course the posts need to be EXTREMELY long. With the hugels up to 12' high, assuming a 6' fence above them, I'm looking at up to 20' fence posts. This is quite long and begs the question of what exactly am I going to use for posts!
Of course I could use a rot-resistant wood, idealy the hearts of such trees. We have lots of cedar here, and I could maybe muster some black locust from somewhere not so far away, however this would be a VERY labor-intensive way to do it, especially considering the scale of this project, which is quite significant! Just the single acre I plan to do this spring will have a LOT of fencing (establishing two paddocks of 1/2 acre each). Long metal poles would of course be expensive, but unless I happen to find some that are used and scrap, then this will get VERY expensive very quickly.
So I had another idea that I really would love some feedback from this community, and ideally from Sepp and his team if anyone has an opinion on it. It's a bit crazy, but it just might work. I have access to someone not so very far away with lots and lots of TIMBER BAMBOO. This grows easily more than 20' tall, should be plenty hardy to this climate, and is 3 - 4 inches thick. This would of course make very effective fencing, however I suspect bamboo is quite thoroughly NOT rot-resistant. The only way it would be long-lasting as fencing is if it was ALIVE. So here is my thinking. If I cut fresh 20' sections of this bamboo (or even potentially dig it up with the root ball), and put it in the ground at about ground level or a little bit below before I build the hugel, and then immediately surround 2/3rds of it with wood, and cover that wood with dirt, it would be sticking the appropriate distance above the hugel.
Firstly, do you think it would grow, and survive in this odd situation of being mostly buried? Ideally sprouting roots along it and stabilizing. Secondly, if it grows, do you think it would grow too aggressively? I am intending on a very Sepp-type uber-diverse mix of broadcast plantings on all of these hugels, do you think the growing bamboo would be a problem for this community of plants? Thirdly, if the foregoing two points work out, do you think the bamboo would be tolerant of wire fencing being somehow attached to it, and how do you think I should attach such fencing to the growing, living bamboo?
I am so incredibly excited! Tomorrow, with a local heavy equipment guru, we are off down to the Bay area to look at (and possibly buy!) this beautiful beast! It's about 30,000 lbs, around year 2000 and has only 3400 hours on it! I'm also looking into getting a TILTROTATOR for it! That is the attachment, so common in Europe that is quite rare in this country. This absence is the reason I hear Sepp complaining about excavators in America! It's damn expensive, but I think will be worth it for my projects!
The question of how steep is too steep is a good one. I believe that the answer is that the steeper the hill, the more narrow the terraces must be, and more steep the "bank" must be between the terraces, so I imagine the answer is in the type of soil you have, so if it's stable enough, and you can get the terraces wide enough for access, then go for it, and be sure to seed it out right away!
As for hugels at the bottom edge of terraces, I have also been thinking about this. It seems slightly conflicting with the importance Sepp seems to put (as I understand it) in having the terrace surface ever so slightly sloped down the hill, keeping water flowing on the surface from forming streams, helping it sink slowly... if the terrace is like that, angled slightly downhill in both the length and width directions, then having a hugel at the downhill side might slightly interfere with the water flowing down and off the terrace, and causing (depending on the soil type I imagine) a bit of a stream to form above the hugel. This, I think you would want to be avoided.
Fantastic that you're giving away a couple of tickets! I found the 11 days with Sepp last spring absolutely life-changing and am deeply engrossed in planning a Holzer Permaculture project currently! Whether I win the ticket or not, I certainly will be there in Loma Mar! Cheers all!
Brenda Groth wrote:what about the people downstream that lose all their water?
Sepp insists passionately that is is NOT the case. That increasing the saturation of the earth body with water can only have a positive effect on water downstream, since he's not taking water OUT of the system, he's just slowing it down so more is retained through each season in and on the landscape so that instead of water flowing on the surface and away when it rains, more stays for longer, and once the ground charges, it holds more water, and has more plants which holds more water. As the hydological balance improves, there is simply more water around, and with increased humidity, even rainfall can eventually increase.
I have Oehler's books, yes, (as well as nearly every single book ever written on the subject of earth-sheltered construction, the collection takes up a whole shelf) and have been over and over it and read all the threads on it here and elsewhere. I am involved in a group project and heavily pushing for earth-sheltering in our buildings (as is one of my obsessions!). My best friend, who is also an experienced builder (of both standard modern structures and earthships) is completely NON-SOLD on Mike Oehler's PSP method with the following (it seems to me quite valid) objections.
Firstly, he will never agree to the putting of posts directly in the ground, treated or otherwise. Clearly eventually such posts will rot, even with an absolute minimum of moisture, as wood when exposed to soil WILL rot. Are we incorrect about this? For this problem, we can at least agree on the use of a foundation using concrete and/or stone as a reasonable and acceptable solution either above or below the ground. Agreed?
Secondly, he insists that the wood planks of a PSP structure, directly in contact with plastic (or pond liner or whatever specific kind of vapor barrier) will eventually rot due to condensation from LACK OF AIR-FLOW against the plastic. This seems to me a reasonable point, am I wrong?
This second issue is more of a problem, as I really otherwise quite like the simplicity of PSP, and going with a more "eastern school" (as Oehler puts it) paradigm of lots and lots of concrete is quite out of the question mostly due to high cost (among other reasons not worth getting into here).
Here is my proposed solution which I want you all to give me your thoughts on before I suggest it to my group. Basically a nice and thick layer of FELT between the wood and the plastic, to create BREATHABLE layer to prevent the wood from rotting. This would need to resist compression fairly well and yet be breathable enough to allow significant air flow allowing any condensation to evaporate and never reach the wood. It would probably want to be a SYNTHETIC felt to eliminate the possibility of IT rotting, though probably a very thick wool felt would work just fine.
I have been researching this subject heavily in the last couple of years and designing a system for a community house we are planning. Apparently China has seven million of these household scale digesters, and India hundreds of thousands. The basic digester design is fairly straightforward though expensive no matter how you cut it, but hey so is a septic tank, which a digester rather resembles, except that the purpose of a septic tank is to settle the solids and not so in a digester. My design will use the "Sol Viva" (from a book by that name) compost bin design to process the outflow from the digester with a sealed worm bin lined with a think layer of wood chips to filter and process the solids and then a constructed wetland, leach field or other method for processing the black-water. Also, other inputs will be needed, as my research shows that human toilet flushings alone (flush toilets are a perk if that's your inclination!) do not contain sufficient carbon for efficient methane production, so not only would we need a lot of shit, but also added carbon, which we will add from an external loading port as sawdust or other agricultural "wastes". Also, I plan to use the perk of "garbage disposals" in the kitchen sink to eliminate taking out the compost while grinding the compost for ease of digestion!
I'm very excited about this system, and have it's construction hopefully in two summers.
I almost always carry a hankie. My back left pocket holds it. Clean in the morning, unless I'm seriously snotty, like sick, then one is fine for a day. You can blow your nose in it, wrap it up and stuff it in your pocket QUITE a few times before it starts to seem snotty, and it dries quickly so you can use it lots if you need to. If you're out and about, in the summer time you can rinse it off in a hose and hang it briefly to dry if it gets really really snotty.
fischerme wrote: sweet, Big bend...i'm actually spent part of my childhood in shasta county. i've only been to big bend springs once, but i'd llike to go again. let me know if youre ever in chico...we're organizing some permie classes this summer and working on getting a demo site. i got those chickens i referenced in my first post. how's your commune going?
A big group has bought the hot springs property and other properties too, and say they're going to have permaculture courses and such some soon. It's a neat town with a lot of potential, especially with all the changes coming now, mostly since we've been here.
The commune is finally starting to take shape. I went to workshop the other week up in Oregon with Diana Leafe Christiansen about intentional communities and ecovillages. Of course we have done almost everything that is recommended against up till now, but we're close to having an actual forming document, and some clear strong agreements. We're near, even, to a clearly stated mission and purpose!
I've been really enjoying this site since a neighbor of mine turned me onto it. Chico is a pretty cool town, and it sounds like you're doing great stuff there. Sometimes a long for a more bustling town with such activity. I'm a couple hours away in Big Bend working to create a commune type permie scene.
Always great to meet people in the area, and I do get to Chico once in a while, having some friends there. If you're ever up here, do come join for a soak in the hot springs.
Jeremy Bunag wrote: I'll follow Pixelphoto's lead in thinking out loud:
I guess my question would be how are the junctions sealed? Maybe I'm thinking too simply, but the implication of "bags" seems to bring to mind "holes."
Pixelphoto is right in that the monolithic dirt structures are great (like caves), but they're just that: monolithic. No crevices/cracks for air to ruin the insulative value. Much like insulated concrete forms and pouring all the walls to your house in one pour. No way to get air infiltration.
But I'm imagining something like sandbags (or dirtbags) stacked up, with little fissures for air to infiltrate. I'm probably simplifying this too much (likely), or I just have no idea how these things work (more likely).
Better than using bags for dirt construction is using the misprint "tube", you can get a whole role for almost nothing and lay whole courses in one fell swoop. I built on someone's land a few years ago, three enormous earthbag terraces, twelve courses high and about sixty feet long. I have never tried to build an actual structure this way, though I love this construction technique. Read the book.
gary gregory wrote: I've always remembered the Star Trek NG episode where the alien race only talks in metaphors. So I think of things like; "Ianto Evans vs the smelly tractor at the Black Range Lodge"
But with the permission of Gwen Lynn, I would like to coin the word-- "Biodruidism"
Darmock and Jalad at Tanagra! I have that whole series on my computer, archived for the kids to laugh at.
Here's three simple raised beds I made last year and put dripline on. I didn't import any soil for it. Seeds germinated fine and then when they started really growing, just yellowed and died, stopped growing. I found some fish fertiliser and put it on, but it was too late to get a harvest... Also the fire and our water line going out definitely had something to do with it. I did harvest FIVE black beans, which should be very hardy and drought tolerant, eh?