I'm probably within 15 miles of you. I have extensive hugel projects in their 3rd and 4th years, among my many other adventures (experiments). I do have sorrel and sun chokes I could share. If you'd like to get together drop me line.
I raise my horses in as close to a natural environment as I can provide and in accordance to my beliefs. Given my management practices, I will have to agree with Isabel and Kate's perspective that keeping horses stalled (for long periods) places risk to their overall health. In addition, I prefer a horse barefoot and encourage a good sole and hoof wall with the assistance of a good equine podiatrist. Bitless is an altogether separate issue and one that has potential legal ramifications (check with your local authorities before you go bitless when not on private property). Bits are a tool for communication, not punishment. Granted, that does not mean everyone who holds one will wield it with the same level of expertise.
What confuses me is the concept that because a horse works for a living it, by default, is being abused, indentured or a has become a slave. I work for a living and I work for my horses living. Does that make me a slave to them? Does my conscious choice to work for them mean I am choosing to be a slave to them and therefore it is a moot point? If that is the case, then what happens when my horses choose to work with me? Do they remain slaves, then? Also, I'm curious what do you think will happen if we, as a society, adopt your model of horse ownership? Do you believe all horse owners will continue to provide for horses they perceive are no longer contributing to their lives?
I recognize there is a very good discussion underway. To avoid confusion, it would be helpful to provide references around the terms you are using and to outline how you define the responsibilities of horse owners to horses vs. horses to horse owners.
If you just want mushrooms to speed-up the composting... you won't need to "introduce" them. I am 99% positive you have spores in the chips. If you want mushrooms to sell you may need to sterilize your substrate to kill the spores that are already in your chips.
I get 200-300 cubic yards of wood-chips, annually, from select arborists. I have to work hard not to find mushrooms. The spores are in the wood-chips and will flush all on their own, in copious quantity and variety. To get them to flush... you may need to get the chips through the "burning of the leaf litter" stage and, then, into smaller piles with some soil contact to provide the push for fruiting.
Lyvia, the Michigan is taking agricultural residuals very seriously. The State provides a similar service to that of your county but it also provides the opportunity for farms to become "Environmentally Verified." The designation means the farm is in compliance with good nutrient management among other things. It's pretty nice. In addition, to keep suburban areas from becoming too congested, many communities are encouraging horse ownership. In my area we haven't had a problem with aminopyralid contamination in horse manure but I always test before I use it (if I bring in outside manure).
Greta, in this drought my pastures are standing at 3 feet. In fact, my cows and horses are not eating fast enough! I may have to drop it after the golden-rod finishes its flowering stage to encourage seed and to give the undergrowth time enough to get 24-36 inches high coming into winter. I do have native grass pastures vs Timothy or a "traditional" blend. So the fields are dynamic and rarely struggle. As in all things, it comes down to the best management for your land. We, also, have 4 bee hives. All are healthy. We've lost a hive or two over the past few years but that was hypothermia related vs contamination.
In my opinion, horses need less than people want to pamper them with.
Sometimes, I think, the wants of horse owners get confused with the needs of horses. I won't get into the need for people to house their horses in megalithic stables; whether or not I agree, it is a personal choice. I have 3 horses pastured on 7-8 acres in Michigan (zone 5). Depending on the snow-load, I may not have to feed hay at all and I have no fancy barn for my horses. In fact, I have no barn at all (only 3 sided shelters and tree screens). In the past 24 months I've had to feed my horses a total of 54 bales of hay and 20 pounds of supplemental feed. In exchange, each horse provides me with 10 tons of manure that is collected and/or spread in the fields, keep my native grass pasture systems in optimal health, carry me to wild-craft/forage and provide companionship. That is a lot of benefit and little impact.
No matter how we choose to raise them, there are a few solid facts about horse manure management that horse people should come to possess: a 1000 pound horse produces 1 cubic yard of manure each month and stalled horses (on average) produce an additional 2 cubic yards per month of stall waste (shavings, straw, paper, whatever). That equates to roughly 10 tons of manure and around 38 tons of stall waste for each horse. Having a management plan for that waste-stream is imperative (especially on smaller acerage). However, that is no different than having a plan for the waste stream of any livestock. My cows have an equal impact. In the management of both species with some creative thought and planning you can turn waste into gold.
So sorry to hear about the drought, Brenda. We've been under a drought but more fortunate in Central Michigan. We are getting rain about every 10-15 days but not a lot. My hugels are, also, holding my annual veggie crops over very well. But a couple of my trees and young shrubs are suffering. I've been letting blanching-water from my pole beans cool to room temperature and dumping the water around one or two trees each day.
I know carrying water is a chore but if it is an option, is it possible for you to divert your grey water in a way that will let you collect and water a little bit here and there? Maybe the washing machine or just the rinse cycle of the washing machine? You might get a little soap but it seems the small diluted amount could be tolerated by healthy soil/plants??
Erica asked me to share my experiences with the water holding capacity of my HK's. I'll be happy to. However, unlike most people on the forums, the primary reason I build HKs is to help control seasonal flood waters. My secondary intention was to use the HKs as a permie habitat and cropping system. I will talk most about my first HK because this will be it's third season in "production." The second is a variation that was installed this past fall.
The shift in primary purpose caused me to choose woody inputs that are different than most HKs. My goal was to increase the surface area of the wood in hopes of *really* getting the most water retention for my efforts. In my first HK, I have some very nice fungal logs as the very base but they make-up maybe 20% of the total woody mass. The remainder of the wood is well-aged ground pine bedding (200+ yards) that I recycled from horse farms . I topped this off with grass clippings from untreated lawns, leaf mold, 100 yards of finished compost (homemade), 8 -12 inches of topsoil and wood chips. The size was 4.5 feet tall 6 feet wide. The HK settled to 3.5 feet tall. I forget the exact length but it is roughly 350 feet long. This was build on-grade vs. dug-in. In the past 2 years, flooding withing 40 feet of the HK has been minimal (if any).
I do not have any good moisture sample statistics to provide but, I have not watered any of the plants in my HK (aside from an initial dowsing of transplants) and have not had any production problems. The pine layer does not appear to have had a negative effect on any of the crops I've planted (melons, pumpkins, tomatoes, broccoli, tomatillos, garlic, scallions, etc) or in any native weeds that have emerged. I've pulled a few tap-roots and found them to be more than 24 inches long (so they are in the pine). Last year we had a record heat wave and drought in Michigan. Despite that, my HK was vibrantly green and no plant showed the slightest sign of wilt. I have some voles and mice in the pile and I've noticed many more Garters and Blue Racers are joining the party, too. Nasty, crop-eating bugs have been few.
My second HK, I wanted to test the retention capacity of mixed woodchips provided by local landscapers. The HK is 220 feet long, is dug in 2 feet into the ground, 3 feet wide and 3 feet above grade. There are fungal logs at the bottom, then woodchips for the next 3 feet then 18 inches of finished compost and, finally, 4 inches of additional woodchips on top. NO topsoil because I didn't have any to spare. Since this is just a "baby" I'll have to let you know how it performs.
As I type this message we are receiving a massive amount of rain from a storm system that is not slated for departure until another 36 hours have passed. I believe my first HK is, already, at saturation point because the water on it's southern face (my neighbors side) is already 2-4 inches deep and their barn (another 50 feet south) is 8 inches underwater. My side of the pile, the north face, is starting to shed water from beneath (slow percolation) but is only 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep. My water retention pond is full and my spillway and southern pastures are under 4-8 inches of water (an area encompassing 1 acre+/-). I expect some amazing pictures will be forthcoming.
Aside from this season's fruit and veggie annuals, I am focusing on trees, bushes and vines, this year. From cuttings, I am planting goji, elderberry, aronia and fig. From Oikos, pawpaw and American Persimmon. I am, also, thinking about ground cherries because I love them dried and eaten like raisins... yummy little sweet-tarts!
It sounds like you have big plans for your spring. I hope you can get it all accomplished.
I have 2 hugelkulturs both about 4-6 feet wide. One was built on grade and is around 350 - 400 feet long and 3 feet tall (after settling). The other is dug-in about 2 feet below grade, is 4.5 feet tall (overall) and 200' long. I love them and use them for water harvesting as well as to control run-off during the spring and fall rains (we have a high water table). I haven't watered mature plants in 2 growing seasons (not even during the drought)!
I do water my transplants until they look like their roots are set. Other than that, I haven't needed to water anything. I would recommend at least 4 foot spacing between the hugels. You can not imagine how not fun it is to carry a couple of harvesting baskets down a 2 foot path and if you have more than one person tending the hugel it can be tough to work around each other when the isle is small.
To get into thea building trades you mayto have to move to a State still experiencing growth. Maybe areas of Texas or North Dakota?
Otherwise, work in IT is easy to come by, pays well and is stable. It might be worth sticking it out for a few years (until the building trades stabilize). A tough choice and one I've had to make, too.
Hopefully they are in Agricultural Zoning. If so, the local zoning board will have to stuff it. The Right to Farm Act should supercede any local ordinances. Another aspect I'd have my legal team investigate is the articles of incorporation for the municipality. If they've improperly incorporated they will be an illegal entity and illegal entities who collect taxes are down-right frowned upon. I bring this up because I know of another municipality, in Oakland county, who went through something like this. The woman they chose to bully had sharp teeth and uncovered this dirty little secret. Rather than expose it, they gave her a "varience." But the ground-work is there anyone else to take a hammer to the glass.
I have thought about this topic from many perspectives in my lifetime. And it has been of particular interest to me, now, because my life has been altered in such a way that I often feel like Algernon in decline.
I get diagnosed with ego by people, too. I've always had a keen passion for getting into the guts of a topic and questioning it's foundations. And, I have a healthy respect for my deductive skills and intuition. It turns-out all of those traits make people uncomfortable enough to protect themselves by labeling the offender (me) as egotistical (rather glad I don't live in a culture where women like me get burned at the stake!). Since many of my friends and associates have have been labeled the same way, I've come to the conclusion that people who label others with "ego" issues are doing so from within the confines of their own sense of comfort. It has very little to do with the person being labeled and more to do with the insecurities of the labeler.
I also believe the definition of Ego is often confused with intelligence. I wouldn't bother too much about it unless people you have a healthy respect for start pulling you aside for that mano-y-mano chat.
Devon Olsen wrote:
there are many factors that you may or may not want to consider when building them, but in the end i think its more important that the bed works for you and your situation than following rules of any sort:)
Isn't that the truth, Devon. Because I'm dealing with excess water from my property and my neighbor's, I needed a sponge TODAY and tomorrow. So I built my piles using some interior logs but lots and lots of shaved wood and chips to increase the water retaining capacity. I expect these piles to decompose more quickly than one made of larger logs but my excess water problem is quickly becoming a thing of the past And I haven't watered my tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, leeks, ad hominem in 2 years.
My newest HK was installed just behind my blueberries. When the berry bushes hit full dormancy I will "unify" them into the HK with lots of leaf-mold and mulch. Hopefully, the roots will make their way into the HK's water reserves and I can reduce my need to water them, too. I love being a "lazy" gardener. )
Neither of my HK's is the recommended size. My initial on-grade HK (now 2 + years old) has a finished height of maybe 3 feet and it is 4 - 5 feet wide and roughly 350 feet long. My new 250' HK is 2 feet below grade and extends 3 feet above grade... it should settle at about 2 feet above grade. I do not anticipate it being a problem.
I'm sure I'm trading longevity of usefullness and, perhaps, faster evaporation of water. But I expect at least 10 years of good service before I poke into one to finde out how the "core" looks.
I would review the GAAMPS I mentioned. Also, if you had offers to purchase your spring water from bottlers, contact them and see if you can get an updated offer in-writing (do not mention the farming issue at this time) just establish the paper trail. If they will give you a written offer you can use it to establish the commodity value of your water source. The water has now become a valuable commodity that will be rendered useless. Meaning the farmer would have to PAY significant damages if it becomes contaminated (that isn't worth the cost of farming that land!). After you've established your claim, alert your neighbor and the outfit farming the land about the potential impact of their run-off and it's affect potential affect on the commodity value of your water and that you will hold them liable for damages. If you have water samples previously taken, awesome (they are your baseline) if not... get them as soon as you can... to establish run-off and baseline.
Also, you need to decide if you will allow limited bottling on your property. Once people become aware of your waters interest to bottlers, they may start looking for a piece of the pie... you may choose to lock the bottlers into a contract to avoid the problem. Up to you.
bill archer wrote:...someone else had informed me of the contaminated horse manure crises that is happening. While I don't want to pay out any money at all I'd rather be safe than sorry.
Because I have a manure hauling business, I deal heavily in horse manure. I have yet to see the crisis hit my compost piles. I keep some finished compost on hand that has been innoculated with a LOTS of Spiny Aramanth, Lambs Quarters and "field weeds." I will mix some of that into a batch I've just finished and see what happens. Let me tell you, I can grow some seriously healthy Spiny Aramanth and Lambs Quarters in my compost piles (so no contamination). If nothing grows, that pile has a problem and further testing would be required. We are in Michigan so it could be some this region hasn't heavily used the herbicide causing such malevolence. Also, I have a feeling farmers would be more apt to use the herbicide on alfalfa fields than grass hay (horses should be primarily grass with little alfalfa; which would affect cattle more than horses.
My advice is to not rule out use of manure because of fear of someone elses bad experience. Use their experience to guide you in making a knowledgable selection of sources. You can use our strategy to test manure/compost sources for health. Talk with your source, do they primarily pasture their herd, feed lots of hay they grow themselves (fertilizers/herbicides used), buy their hay? If they buy hay there may be no knowledge what's happened to the hay, That's ok, you experiment with it. So take a small portion of manure, a 5 gallon bucket(use a small garden spade to take manure samples from different spots/depths in the pile), you can use it as a test batch. Gather some Spiny Aramanth and Lambs Quarter seeds (the toxin was developed to affect Spiny Aramanth in particular, if I remember correctly) and see what grows. If these plants grow healthy, you are not likely to have problems. Heck, if you get really lucky, the source pile will be COVERED with healthy Spiny Aramanth and "non-grass" weeds already and that would be a great sign of non-contamination, too.
I've used a significant amount of such manure/stall shavings in my hugelkultur. The hugel, the plants, fungi and small life are all THRIVING even in our drought. Don't be fearful... make it an opportunity to experiment!
I have successfully installed a hugelkultur on my south property line that gets significant run-off from the neighboring property. So far, I don't have the same issue with commercial farming on that side but, I can tell you my hugelkulture soaks up at around 95-99% of the water that makes it's way to it ( and we usually get a LOT of water). In the EXTREME wet seasons, I do get some water that makes it's way through the pile. It is my hope, during those times, that the carbon fibers in the hugel are able to provide some filter/trapping mechanism for any volitile subsances that reach it. Also, I hope that the amazing array of flora and fauna in the structure can help to remediate any contaminantes.
From the legal perspective, I would look at MDA's Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs) for managing agricultural runoff/residuals. They should be available on the MI.gov through MDA. Also, you could contact your MSU Extension agent and see if they can help you find your way through the mess.
In my area of Michigan, farmers are having to make the tough choice of choosing to feed their $40K worth of livestock $150k worth of hay. Even for those who grow their own hay, the hay's sale price is better than the income from the cattle. I am seeing more hay being shipped out of my area (big dairy country) than I've seen milk trucks or livestock trailers.
This is going to be a difficult winter for so many. Brenda, I am so sorry to hear about your son's difficulty finding work. It must be truly heart-breaking for you all.
I have ground pine shavings, collected from horse stalls, as a primary component of my HK. I chose them because I am using the HK as a flood control measure so I need the extra surface area exposed by the small particle size of the wood.
My HK and the plants/fungi growing in it have not had any adverse reaction to the high pine content.
However it should be noted, I let the wood age for about a year before using it.
The Wisner's will be heading back through the Michigan area sometime in October. If enough people, in the area (Great Lakes Region) are interested and committed to attending a workshop that would be the time. I do not think they will be back this way for another year or two after that. If this is something people would like to pursue, there is a chance we could work to host something at our Cabin in the Mecosta County Area (M66 between M20 and M10).
We had a wonderful time with the RMH Clinic this past weekend. For those of you who are still considering attending a clinic with Ernie and Erica, it is well worth the investment in both time and money. There will be another opportunity to join them this weekend in the Detroit area. If you can, attendance is highly recommended.
Welcome to Permies! We used to work together and I'm not far from you, so anytime you want to check-out my pastures and permie projects let me know. I'll be happy to share what has been working for me and hear whats been working for you.
I, also, agree. My area of Michigan has been plagued with searing temperatures and very little rainfall since our unseasonally early spring broke. I've been managing my native grass pastures intensively for the past several years. I am happy to report they are strong and still showing plump, glossy green blades of grasses and forages under a protective cover of of dried seedheads. The ungrazed pastures have a stockpile of healthy green forage more than 8 inches deep. A blessing since I've recently heard the hay auctions on the western edges of Michigan is at $12.50/bale!
All of my established peach and plum trees are showing no stress from the drought. I lost a couple of young cherry trees, though and have had to water my blueberries. Everthing I started early in my Hugel is doing fantastic. The roots have had time to dig deep and tap the water within. Other things didn't have the time and tamped-off. I am building many more large hugels this year.
One very positive side effect of the drought is, my management practices are being noticed by my conventional farming community. A good accomplishment for permaculture given I live in big farm country. It is kind of funny, in one drought I've made the "social transition" from being "one crazy loonie" to "maybe being on to something." One my neighbors even mentioned he would be a fool not to learn the techniques I'm playing with! So keep it up, "crazy loon" compatriates... people are seeing what we're trying to do and starting to consider alternatives to "generally accepted practices."
We are going to investigate and learn about RMH through the building an outdoor cooking area. There is, also, a possibility that we will be able to visit a scrap yard where Erica and Ernie will illustrate what to qualities to look for when choosing elements for use in RHMs.
We have room for camping on our property. There is room for a few trailers (no hook-ups). Otherwise, there is plenty of space for tents. If you would like something more private or with shower facilities, Sleepy Hollow State Park is within 10 miles of our location. They have a fantastic campground, beach and trails.
Our Clinic will be held on August 17,18,19.
Tuition: $225 for the entire weekend. Military discount does apply. Also, if financing is a problem, there is an opportunity for working something out (on a case by case basis). Either in-trade for items needed for the workshop or services to the clinic participants. We are of the philosophy that we would rather have people learning than waiting for the opportunity!
I would recommend leaving a vegetative strip between your manure runoff zone and your water source. I would make it no less than 20 feet wide and make sure to leave the vegatation at least 8 - 12 inches tall. And, if you are unable to swale, as previously suggested, try hugelkulture to capture and help filter off some of those volitile nutrients.
Garlic. A many years ago, I decided to plant 2 cloves from every bulb I used. It takes a year or two (depending on your needs) but in the end I have plenty of garlic to harvest for my home and to make gifts for friends. Now, I plant all the small interior cloves from a garlic bulb.
Hey Michiganders, Ernie and Erica are coming to our georgous State to present a Rocket Mass Heater Extravaganza!
The dates are slated for August 17,18,19 and will be presented in the Central L.P. (very near Sleepy Hollow State Park & Campground).
We would love to see all of our Michigan Permies attend so I intend to keep the cost to attend as affordable as possible. I have a few kinks to work-out but I will post more details soon. Please let me know if you're interested in attending (it will help me estimate expenses).
With horses "intensive grazing" takes on a whole new meaning. Our current pasture management plan is the result of 8 years of thoughtful experience on this property. We have 3 horses pastured about 8 acres of 'native' field grasses/weeds (we never planted seed). Our grazing space is divided into 11 individual pastures (2 added this spring), rotated weekly. We try to never let summer grasses get grazed to a depth shorter than 6 inches. Our planned "winter" fields we stop grazing before the end of August. This allows them to develop "layers" of forage. The top layer being tall stalks and seed heads of weeds/grasses (which the horses adore), the second layer being tall weeds and grasses that have "slumped" over but still maintain a lot of green stem in-winter, the final layer is green grasses that reside under the protective cover of the first and second layer. This third layer the horses will dig through the snow to consume. Even in Michigan's bitter February and March months it is green and nutritious for the horses. We, also, are mindful not to over-graze our planned spring pastures. We've found it best to NOT let the horses graze those tight too the ground before the early winter frost (the previous year). Letting the spring pastures go long in the fall seems to help them green-up much earlier and, really, develop mass very quickly.
This past year has been our most successful (in part due to the mild winter). We purchased and fed a total of 30 bales of first cutting hay for the entire 2011/2012 winter season. This spring we've fed zero hay and I do not anticipate feeding any hay until, maybe, February 2013.
This year, we will be applying last seasons lessons and two new pastures. I'm going to try and rotate in chickens to follow the horses on the pasture rotation. That means that each pasture will have, at least, 10 weeks of rest before being put back under stress. I hope to have such a stockpile of forage that I will never have to buy hay. Maybe I won't ever get there, entirely, but I've gone from feeding 300 bales in winter to 30 bales. That is no small savings!
Yesterday my husband and I spent the majority of the day putting-up two additional pastures for our horses. At the end of our build I noticed one of our fence posts was not quite right. I checked my herd for any proof of an impact with the post and they were free from injury. So, that meant a long walk to the back field for closer inspection of the post.
Upon arrival, I found what I can only estimate to have been 50,000 honey-bees. A huge swarm that fully encompassed the exposed 4x6 post! Fortunately, we had an empty hive on-hand. A little work and we had the bees snuggled in their beds. Ahh... such a reward at the end of a long day was fantastic!
Thank you for responding. I will be interested in purchasing for a fall planting. I think this will give everyone an opportunity to do whatever research they want and others to determine if they would like to take a portion of the seed. I will save with the idea of purchasing 25# to bolster a couple of my pasture divisions that have been struggling after a flood. Planting those two sections this fall will allow me to leave those fields ungrazed until fall the following year. For me, this will be a good test batch and the plants will have ample opportunity to dig deep before that first bit of grazing pressure.
Let me know if you are albe to find enough purchasers.
My horses graze fields of native grasses with some spots being very high in clover. The horses choose, by themselves, when they like to eat that Mammoth clover; otherwise they ignore it. The same is true for all the grasses. It is fun in the fall, when the seed heads are ripe, to watch the horses harvest those. They walk through the fields snapping off seed-heads like popcorn.
I would be interested in you seed mix, also. So if you need a couple of horse-types to reach a your minimum blend volume, let me know and I would be willing to pilot a plot of it to my herd here in Michigan.
William James wrote:
I think if gardeners took the lead on making a home for their pollinators, this would be less of a problem. It's seems pretty easy to provide habitat.
For this season, I don't think it's just an issue of habitat. Our dandelions have only just begun to bloom but our fruit trees were in full glory almost 4 weeks ago. It is not "typical" for fruit trees in Michigan to be in full bloom in early-March with the snow crocus (I'm guessing Pennsylvania is not much different). Fruit trees in my area typically bloom in late April to early May. This year is a challenge for orchards because not only did the trees flower early, they flowered before many other "habitat" plants. Plants that would help draw those bees/polinators to the fruit trees.
In addition to the lack of bees, there is a lack of other pollinators. The warm days but freezing nights is not healthy for our helpful little buggers... especially when they have no protective cover to buffer the cold nights. adly, in my area, the tree crops are going to be impacted in a negative way. If I get any fruit out of my orchard I'll jump for joy!
As for our bees, they are staying close to their traditional foods for this time of year, those early leafers who throw pollen to the wind in copious quantity.
Howdy Michiganders. I'm here in Central Michigan farm country. I have 12 acres much of which is pasture divided for my 3 horses. I also have 3 large dogs. I have an extensive hugel experiment ongoing, many young peach and plum trees, bush cherries, blueberries, garlic, asparagus, rhubarb, hickory nuts, annual veggies (in season), and tons of compost. I plan on planting cherry trees, and whatever else strikes my fancy, this year.
I have been experimenting with rotational grazing of my horses (on 'native' field grasses/weeds). This has been my most successful year (due to the mild winter) and I only had to supplement my herd with 30 bales of first cutting hay (whoo-hoo!).
I look forward to seeing if we can manage to pull together a meeting.
Karin Smiles wrote:Thank you for your replies. I am wondering if I can make this happen for me. What kind of income level would one have to be at to be able to start. I am hoping to buy land by next year and would love to build a sustainable home. What are the typical costs of building and starting a garden to grow enough food to provide say 3-4 people with what they need. I know it will take some trial and error and time to get there but what are the realities of what it takes to begin this lifestyle. What can I start growing in my apartment now? I have a south window which gets alot of sun. And where can I get non GMO seeds. Are there any books I could be reading that will provide the info I am looking for ? Thank you..
A quick source for seed is: Annie's Heirloom Seeds and for some fun and unusual stuff: Oikos Tree Crops . Both of these companies are Michigan-based. There are several other non-GMO seed companies that you can find online, too. I do know that Julie, from Annie's Heirloom Seed, is giving a seed starting clinic in Dimondale, Michigan tomorrow. But, maybe that is too far for you to go? With an indoor sunny spot, you can grow herbs and greens. You can, also, share that space with seedlings you're planning on transplanting to the garden.
I do not think there are 'typical costs' to building a sustainable house, per se, because each person's and each property's needs are different. If you are going to build from the ground-up there are many options available and the costs are variable depending upon how involved you want to be in the process, etc. One option I explored was Enertia . Many times I wish I would have gone this route, too. The income level you need depends upon what your carry-costs on the property and the supplies you need. Acreage for sustainability is a variant, too.
What you may want to do is to define what you want your homestead to be. Do you want to provide only your vegetables and fruits? Do you want to include chickens for eggs and meat? Are you willing to raise your own pork, beef, milk? Once you've defined your goals, it might be a good idea to prioritize them. I would not recommend going from little experience to needing to manage an entire farm AND livestock, too.
I started with some baseline gardening experience and I happen to have horses. Each year, I've added a new component or two to my farm. The first year after we built, I didn't do much more than a basic garden. I wanted to see what effect our house made on the property. I found that I had not planned well and although my house was high and dry... we had a mote. So, after the first year, I went mote-water with some diversionary/retention tactics. I found a little success and I planted fruit trees where it was safe. Then I expanded pasture space but still wasn't happy with my water management. So I test piloted large-scale hugelkultur in one of my most offending spots. It turned out to be a raging success in both water retention AND crop production.
This year, I will add more hugelkulturs to slow and retain as much water as possible... and each one will be thoroughly planted to provide food, beauty and habitat. I may even have enough confidence to try and manage something besides the gardens and horses. I'm trying to learn about managing chickens as a meat source. I've just about convinced myself that I know enough to move-on to the trial and error stage. I expect a lot of errors. :p
I'm in the Central LP. Depending on your area in Eastern Michigan, I can share what has been working for me. You can do a large variety of crops in Michigan but to get some crops into production you will have to buy stock from a local nursery or start them from seed, soon. Tomatoes being one of the main crops to get started if you plan on using them. Broccoli, peas, lettuce are crops that can be direct sown and are cool weather friendly (they will die in summer). Although, you may be able to push them if you keep them in a shady, protected area.
Feel free to contact me if you are looking for suggestions or comraderie. I'd love to hear about your success stories.
Straw poll may be over but I'm going to put in a strong vote for printed copies, too. I have vision issues that make a book a requirement if I'm really going to study something. Plus, I'm rather old school... I like to curl-up on the couch with a book. My laptop just isn't as cozy.
Ernie Wisner wrote:Let me clear up a misconception here. If you find a good ditch digger you had best pay him a good wage cause a good ditch is a damn hard skill to learn.
AMEN! Seriously, if you want to make good money... do a job just about everyone else thinks they are TOO good for. Ditch-diggers, manure wranglers, trash haulers and brush collectors make a lot more money than people would suspect.
A college degree, today, is what a high school diploma was years ago. That is the sorry truth. There are many exceptions to the rule but not so many that a college degree isn't worth some effort! If you want to get a degree and you don't know what you'd like to study... pick something that offers a very marketable skill. Engineering fields are screaming for workers who do not exist. So, is skilled trades (and yeah... you need college courses for many of those, too, just to get to be an apprentice).
My son is 18 he started college last year. He was going to go into Nuclear Engineering or Nuclear Physics until his final year in high school. In that final year, he'd maxed-out all the math courses offered at the local level (yeah... colleges, too). Since the only course options left for him to complete his HS diploma were in theater (a waste of time for him), I had him take heavy diesel and heavy hydraulic mechanics through another school district. He found he loves, loves, loves this line of work. He is in community COLLEGE to get his associates degree and mechanics certification for Heavy Diesel and Hydraulic Systems. Then he can apprentice with mechanics. After his Associates, he will have to transfer to a State University to continue his bachelors in Heavy Equipment Operations and Management. That degree will open-up avenues the Associates and Certification alone can not. In addition, the degree will him higher marketability and wages. He knows this because he has discussed the issue with some local firms that specialize in this type of equipment: Apples to Apples and they will take the person who put in the time to get the degree.
You do not have to graduate from college with huge student loan debt. If you work your way through, not party, and pay as you go with scholarships and personal cash... you can graduate without debt. My son is doing it. He is on scholarship this year and has very high grades to maintain those grants. He also works a minimum of 30 hours per week and puts 90% of his take-home into the bank. If he is lucky, he won't have to pay for his schooling and when he's done, he'll have at least $30K in the bank to start his life with. To meet this goal, he chose to do the first two years of study at the community college instead of going to the State University for all 4 years.
You can get the degree if it's right for you and if it's not, take the time to figure out what you want first. Either way, the key is realizing that you are investing in YOURSELF... and employing the discipline to do it.