I need some feedback on this. It came to my mind yesterday.
What I call Salad Bar Pigs (tipping my hat to Joel Salatin here) is a paddock shift system involving pigs.
You may have seen the likes of Joel Salatin and Sepp Holzer using pigs as soil aerators. Holzer has paddocks where he seeds polyculture mixtures after the animals have gone through, whereas Salatin's system in parts is free range, because he has vast stretches of forest where nothing gets seeded.
What if we combined that ability of pigs to aerate the soil with a never-ending communal harvest for us and them ?
Choose a piece of land. Two acres is fine, if you don't want to feed the whole town. Find one with a slope. Dig a pond high on the slope.
Plant rows of fruittrees and bushes, N-S, mabye about 7 feet in width. In between leave 2-3 times that space (haven't worked that one out yet). At least some of the bushes should be nitrogen-fixing. Seed the spaces between them with a herb mixture.
Then mark out spaces for narrow hedges at a right angle to the tree rows, so that paddocks of roughly equal size are created. Maybe about 450 sq ft. In the centre of each hedge there'll be an opening wide enough for a wheelbarrow. The hedges are bamboo, and are kept short, maybe about 2-3 feet. (I need to find a bamboo species that doesn't mind being kept short, is evergreen, and whose leaves and shoots are edible.)
I have never kept pigs, but I'd go for a friendly and winter hardy breed. Mangalitsa look lovely. You start with the first paddock, and let your pigs graze through all the available forage/grass. The delicate part will be to have enough pigs to tear up the small paddock in maybe two days. (That time frame is somewhat flexible, of course.)
Then you set up a fence in the next paddock, let the pigs in there - they'll quickly learn to follow you - and plant your vegetables in the "cultivated" one. Seed some white clover, especially on the central path. The bamboo at the northern ends will be left to grow tall to provide wind protection and free bean stakes, and a small greenhouse might come in handy for hot season crop seedlings.
Over the course of the next months, you'll continuously create a small market garden every two days - ploughed, fertilized and ready to be sown. Create enough of them (60? 80?), so that by the time your pigs come round again the annuals that you didn't harvest have yielded seeds to keep and sell.
Biannuals can be harvested before the pigs come through in the autumn, and the best specimens kept to produce seeds by replanting them right afterwards.
The pigs will also trim the evergreen bamboo hedges, which will give them wind protection in the wintertime. Adjust your fence accordingly. The bamboo will be planted as slightly stepped hedges, so that winds from east or west are slowed. At the well fertilized bottom of the slope you plant your asparagus and rhubarb.
The pigs will have a movable shelter with a hinge at the top, and a shallow trough, filled with pondwater; they probably won't be able to create a state-of- the-art wallow in two days. (That's a detail I know too little about.)
The paddock shift will be asymmetrical, i.e. the pigs will not be in the same paddock at the same time each year. Some paddocks won't be resown, because they'll be ploughed in winter. (Of course, selling the pigs in the autumn is another option.) The animals will get different feed in each paddock, because the individual paddocks are planted according to the season, and only one by one.
When it's planting season for something like potatoes, put in just a few of them in each successive paddock, and you'll have a small amount to harvest fresh every other day. If there is a road nearby, try an honour system. If there's a restaurant nearby ...
Of course, you're not confined to harvesting the paddock that's about to be "raided"; there'll be plenty to eat/share/sell in the other ones as well.
The herbs under trees and bushes can be harvested with a sickle - but there could also be an extended version: Put chickens in a paddock under the trees and bushes on one side when the pigs come through. They'll feed on the herbs that you haven't picked, and get their share of the bugs the pigs stir up, and the flies that follow them. Unlike the pigs, they are also welcome to weed the perennial beds at the bottom of the slope.
In the autumn, all animals will receive their share of the fruit that's unfit for storage or sale. Once the system is well established, you'll only need the greenhouse for the most tricky customers, as there'll be plenty of herbs and other greens to harvest in early spring - the perennial beds and the only briefly disturbed herb layer under the trees will see to that.
If done well, there will be no waste, because every tomato or cabbage that you'd otherwise have to laboriously remove, compost or burn will now be gladly eaten and/or dug under, together will all the grubs and beetles in between, by a horde of dinner guests you only have to let in !
If you build the pond high up on the slope, where are you going to get the water to fill it? You'll need to calculate the area above the pond, "average" rainfall, soil drainage, etc to determine if your pond will ever get filled.
You mentioned winter hardy pigs. Most small scale hog operations slaughter all (non-breeding) hogs right after the first frost (they need to keep the carcass chilled before butchering). In winter time, there is often not enough forage for the critters, and it takes a lot of store bought feed to keep them warm in the cold months (while they are not adding much weight). Economically, it does not make much sense except on a feed-lot type operation.
Especially in the hot months of summer, the pigs need their wallow spot. It helps keeping them from overheating, controlling pests, and it's just plain FUN! Kind of like a chicken with her dust bath...fun and function.
Chickens in a live, growing garden? I have seen that done before, and the results reminded me of the pictures I saw that were taken right after General Sherman marched through Georgia! Not pretty.
The design is based on the assumption that you're not located on a ridge, so that the pond could be filled by runoff. Also, we're quite blessed with the amount of rainfall we get round here ...
About the winter: As I wrote, when the system is young you may want to keep the pigs until the ground is frozen, and then sell them. When the system has matured the pigs could be rotated as before during the winter, albeit mostly in areas with milder climate. As you would continue seeding hardy crops until the very last date they could still find stuff to feed, because of the 5 month buffer. I'll have to think about whether it's actually worth doing that. Reducing their numbers would certainly help.
Wallowing is certainly fun to watch, but in that perfect wallow there'll be nothing to feed on, only slow buildup of diseases. If you allow them to create their jacuzzi, they'll compact the soil and expect you to carry in the cocktails. Not regenerative. It's a trade-off, I know, but I want them to work for their food, and to create the next garden bed in doing so.
And no, certainly no free range chickens. If you read the paragraphs again you'll find that the chickens are always in a separate paddock, either under the trees or amongst the perennials for brief cleanup operations.
As fencing is rather expensive here I went with the rebar option (reinforcement bar for concrete). By cutting them in half lengthwise with an angle grinder I have 8mm thick iron fence in a grid pattern 6 metres long by 1.2 metres high.
The cuts give me pointy ends that dig nicely into the paddock and then metal star pickets and tie wire to hold it up.
This system erects FAST, I had 3/4 a paddock finished today. And you can pull it up and move the rebar around and even do curves if straight lines does not suit your fancy.
I cover the lower three squares with chicken wire (hexagon pattern) that I just cut and then use the cut lengths of fencing to wrap around the rebar. Now no little pig can try and squeeze through any square and hurt themselves and escape.
I use the same rebar without chicken wire to do the paddock for the cows.
Cost is about $7/metre, more so when you cost in the pickets but fencing costs $14/metre easy over here, more if you get someone to do it for you so its a good deal all around.
I have treated pine (yuck), ring-lock, chicken wire, the rebar I just erected, and typical Aussie metal star picket and barbed and smooth wire fencing. It will be good to see how long each of them lasts.
With my rebar I plan on raising pigs in one season in a sectioned of piece of paddock. Let the pigs rip up and tractor the ground as they go for roots. Let them fertilise and till the soil up and then move the fencing and move them to the next sections while I back plant the previous section into a multi-tude of pasture plants.
Plant your trees on Keyline. Interplant not fruit trees and shrubs, but nitrogen-fixing trees (Robinia, alder) and fruit trees. The N-fixers will be coppiced and yield wood for your rocket mass heater.
Use fruit bushes instead of bamboo as hedges, and the bamboo only on the outside as windbreak hedges.
Adjust your layout so that one N-fixing tree planted at the intersection can fertilize two hedges and two fruit trees. If that isn't possible, make sure to plant an Elaeagnus hedge.
Along the lines of trees put in poles that are slightly taller that the adult fruit trees. In between the poles install wires, which will serve as espaliers for grape-vines, kiwi, and figs at the top and for beans, cucumbers et al at the bottom. The very top will serve as a perch for birds of prey, who'll control the voles.
When you're unsure about the amount of work you'll have to put in during the winter, buy piglets in spring and sell them at the first sight of frost.
Make sure you have an uneven paddock rotation, like f.e. one and a half rotations in one year, whether you sell the pigs at the end of the year or not.
Providing water might be a lot easier with a cattle waterer, attached to a hose. If you extend your paddock fencing on one side to allow the pigs in between two trees in summer, and then put the waterer there as well, there's a good chance the pigs will splash about a lot of water, create a wallow and maybe even a small permanent pond.
I just finished reading storeys guide to raising pigs/hogs, have to say there isnt much there to take from it to plug into a permie ecology. I three guinie hogs last summer and im at a loss for real permie info when it comes to hogs. anyone know any good books on permie hog raising.
Character- every decision you ever made culminating into the moment we call now.
Build a large(r) chicken tractor, then take it out and mark the individual paddocks. There will be no hedges, and each paddock will be the size of the tractor. Sow white clover on the permanent paths between them. In between you can plant rows of bushes. Instead of planting standard fruit trees, put in the poles between the bushes and espalier fruit trees on those.
Space requirements: Backyard compatible; less than one tenth of the hog system.
You could also put wires between the poles and across a newly planted paddock (at a right angle to the espaliers) to trellis beans or cucumbers.