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Daron Williams

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since Oct 08, 2016
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Hi, I’m Daron, and there’s nothing I love more than cultivating food, habitat, and beauty for my family and the wild critters that share our home.
Home, for me, is the Wild Ride Homestead—the little piece of earth where my wife, Michaela, and I are raising a family and running a business.
Michaela tends to the “home” part of the homestead—turning our harvests into wholesome, tasty meals, and taking the lead raising our little toddler. She also helps out quite a bit with Wild Homesteading, acting as my editor and helping me translate some of the abstract concepts into concise, actionable tips.
Our son Arden is also a cornerstone of our life and work, keeping us smiling and laughing even when times are tough.
Michaela and I both work outside the home to pay the bills—I work as a restoration project manager, and Michaela works at our local public library.
Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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Recent posts by Daron Williams

I agree with Amy. If the compost has any weed seeds put it on the grass and then the cardboard and then the woodchips. But if the compost does not have weed seeds I would do cardboard then compost and then woodchips.

Also, you can just sheet mulch with just cardboard and woodchips. That is what I normally do on my wild homestead.

Good luck and welcome to permies!
2 weeks ago
I have suffered from depression most of my adult life and since getting in a car accident a few years ago I have had back pain that never really goes away. I'm also suffering through wrist pains from having to work at a computer a lot... all in all not fun and it makes things hard.

In the past I really did not know what to do about this and in many ways I'm still struggling. One thing I did was really start paying attention to when I would start to feel depressed and when I would suffer the most pain. I started to learn that my depression seems to go in cycles so at least now when I'm feeling depressed I know it won't last. This makes it easier to deal with. I also learned what makes me feel better and I try to incorporate those things into my life on a daily basis--but this is still a work in progress...

Going to bed early (8:30-9:00pm) and getting up early (5am) is really good for me but I have struggled to always do this. Life loves to get in the way of this sort of schedule... I also try to take time to walk around my land or hangout by my pond before bed and in the morning. This is very healing for me and helps to make my depression better. I want to take time to meditate but I have never been consistent with this... but when I do it I feel better. Exercise helps me a lot--when I work hard physically I tend to feel a lot better.

I have never taken medicine for my depression (same with my chronic pain) so I have tried to use some of these techniques to manage it. Sometimes I'm better at it than other times. I try to not be hard on myself when things get rough and to understand that it's temporary. The people around me are also very supportive and understanding and that helps a lot.

With my physical pain I have made some changes such as building a standing desk to use at work. This helps with my back a fair bit. I ware a brace on my wrist when I'm typing and I try to not push myself too much. I have also taken to improving my overall health. Changing my diet a fair bit has resulted in me losing over 10 lbs and I hope to lose another 15-20 lbs. This could do a lot to help my back pain. I also would love to do yoga on a regular basis both for physical health and for mental health. But time is hard to find...

As others have suggested I also break my projects up into small steps and not try to get everything done in a day. As long as I'm making steady progress I can feel good about my work.

What has made the biggest difference for me was learning how I respond to different things and not being hard on myself when things are not working. This gave me the space I needed to make little adjustments that then gave me space to make more adjustments. Things are getting better but I'm still a work in progress!

Good luck and I hope this helps!
2 weeks ago
I have been gardening my whole life but only got into seed saving around 5 years ago and only with some simple vegetables like beans and peas. But I did let plants volunteer and I loved that.

The biggest reason I did not save seeds was that it was so simple to buy seeds from a store and it was fun looking up all the varieties and trying out new ones and getting old favorites again.

There are a lot of things each of us could do and even the simple tasks take time and energy. Sometimes I pick the route that costs a little money but saves a lot of time because I have decided to do other things that at that moment are more important to me or will have a bigger impact.

That all being said each year I'm expanding the number of seeds that I save and I try to expand to a new vegetable each year too. The benefits in terms of productivity from developing my own locally adapted strains is too good for me to pass up. But I'm still just doing this on a relatively small scale.

An alternative to saving seeds for me has been to focus on volunteer vegetables and to focus a lot on growing perennial vegetables. To me this has provided a lot of benefit without needing to invest a lot of time/energy. But I'm still saving seeds and I would love to be growing the majority of my vegetables from seeds that I saved the previous year.

Jay Angler wrote:I've just been reading, "the soil will save us - how scientists, farmers, and foodies are healing the soil to save the planet" by Kristin Ohlson. In Chapter 4 she gives an example of an American farmer who plants fields of polycultures as animal and human forage where the tallest plant is a sunflower. Having done this for about 15 years now, he can push a moisture meter easily down 4 ft. That's an example of how deeply we can get water infiltrating if we heal the soil through simple techniques such as no-till, cover-crops, and planting a wide variety of plants. An interesting byproduct of his management was that the insect quantity and variability has sky-rocketed. These insects are in balance with the plants - the farmer uses no insecticides, and the insects actually eat many weed seeds, keeping less desirable plants under control. These are things people can do even on urban yards to conserve water. Planting bulbs and deep rooted flowers is a great first step in a location where things need to look "neat".

Thank you Jay! That sounds like a really interesting book... I'm going to have to look it up! Thank you for sharing! Yeah, I agree--there is a lot people can do even in an urban area. And it's amazing what the results can be in the long run.

My big permeable pond currently goes dry in the summer. But I also know that the bottom of it is likely only 2-3 feet above the summer groundwater based on the level of the wetland on my neighbors property just downstream from the pond. I really think that by building my soil and adding more water catchment features plus planting a lot of perennial plants with a focus on trees that overtime I can raise the groundwater up those 2-3 feet so that my pond never goes dry in the summer. At least that is my goal!

I really wish more people would focus on building soil and holding water on their property. So much could be achieved with fairly simple actions!

Thanks again!
2 weeks ago
Hugelkultur beds can work out really well--I love the ones I have on my wild homestead. Here are a few of my thoughts that you might find helpful.

I would not worry about wood from pine/spruce making the soil acidic. As acidic organic material breaks down it tends to become neutral. Acidic soils are generally created from moist/wet conditions with low oxygen and high organic material in the soil that decomposes very slowly (think bogs as a good example). Just adding acidic organic materials to the soil tends to not make the soil acidic. Here is a great and fairly short video that talks about this with a focus on pine needles

When you build you hugelkultur bed I would be careful to make sure gaps between the woody material are all filled in with soil, compost or animal manure. While this is not necessary it will make your hugel bed work better faster. Otherwise it will need a lot more time to settle out and it may even dry out in the short term if there is not enough soil added on top of it all.

I'm careful with mine to fill the gaps and then also add a nice thick topping of soil on top of it all. This can make the beds much more productive in the short run.

Good luck!
2 weeks ago
Great to hear that your landlord was happy with all the changes! Yeah... deer are a pain... I fenced my whole 2.86 acres because they were just hitting everything so much and I got tired of having to protect every individual growing area. In the end it was just easier to protect the whole property but I know that is not always possible. Great to hear that the Irish Spring bars worked! I never tried that but good to know!
2 weeks ago

I love storing water in ponds—having surface water on a wild homestead brings a bit of magic and beauty to the land. But the reason these features are great for water storage is not actually the water you see.

This week’s blog post – 3 Ways You Can Store Water on Your Wild Homestead – provides an overview of 3 different ways to store water. But it turns out that all 3 are actually just variations on the same theme.

That theme is that soil is a great place to store water on your wild homestead. If you follow this basic theme then you will see your land improve and become more abundant overtime.

Who knows… you might even create some new springs!

Why Soil is Where You Want to Store Your Water

Surface water features such as ponds get all the attention but really they don’t hold that much water. At least not compared to the amount of water the soil can hold.

The blog post introduces you to swales, mulch pits, and permeable ponds. Each of these 3 features work in the same way. The water you see on the surface in each of these features is not what’s important—it’s the water they add to the soil that matters.

These features capture water and slow or stop its flow over the surface. This gives the water time to soak into the ground.

The result is your land will become much more abundant due to the increase in water in the soil. This water will also stick around for far longer than surface water will.

First, water moves much slower through the ground than it does on the surface.

Second, groundwater is protected from evaporating.

Third, the sheer volume of water that soil can hold will almost always be more than any pond or other water feature you can build on your wild homestead.

This last point is the most important and it’s why you can store water even if you don’t have streams or ponds on your wild homestead.

A simple way to increase how much water your soil can hold is to increase the amount of organic material it has in it. One great way to do this is to add mulch to your soil. Another is to plant perennial plants. Also, don’t remove the leaves that fall on the soil in the fall.

Overtime these simple methods (check out the blog post for more methods) will increase the amount of organic material in your soil which will great increase how much water your soil holds.

While you may not be able to see this water, you will see the results in an increase in abundance on your wild homestead. Plus, you will have to water less and less.

This is what I mean when I say everyone can store water. The key is not to focus on the surface water but instead to focus on the groundwater that is stored in the soil.

Surface features like ponds and swales are there first to get water in the ground. This is why I don’t line my ponds with impermeable material. I want the water to soak in overtime.

How Do You Store Water on Your Wild Homestead?

Hugelkultur beds like the one in the picture are another great way to add large amounts of organic material to the soil.

While ponds, streams, and other surface water features get a lot of attention it’s all the little things you do to build up your soil that will truly hold the most water in the long run.

So what do you do to hold water on you wild homestead? I would love to hear from you!

Please leave a comment below sharing what you do to store more water and also make sure to check out the blog post to learn more about why soil is a great place to store water and features like swales that can help get surface water into the ground.

While you are over on the blog most make sure to leave a comment! If you are the first to do so you will get a piece of pie! The pie will get you access to some special features on perimes, discounts at some vendors, and you can use it to purchase some products on the permies digital marketplace.

If you leave a comment on the blog post make sure to leave a post here on permies too so I can easily give you the slice of pie.

Thank you!
2 weeks ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:I have been maintaining my dad's Augustine grass lawn in town for a couple years now using his "almost complete neglect" philosophy.  I think I only watered it a couple times this year, and only in spots that get too much sun.  I always mow on the highest setting.  A couple parts of the lawn get too much sun to survive without irrigation, so this Fall I plan to install a native and xeriscape plants garden in those spots, using plants from my own garden that should do well there.  I'm excited about this project.  I think it will add a lot of interest to his rather dull yard.

Nice! Sounds like a great project--I'm planning on adding fruit trees near my lawn to add some extra character to it and make it fit in more with the rest of my zone 1 plantings.
2 weeks ago

Gray Henon wrote:I cut up 40 sq ft of Myers Zoyzia sod and planted it around our small lawn 10 years ago.  I has just about filled in and it is amazing grass.  Looks like turf type fescue, but holds up much better to summer heat.  I sprinkle the grill ashes on it and that is it for fertilizer/lime.  It grows slower than fescue and requires less mowing.  It does brown out in the winter, but stays thick and doesn't turn to mud.

Nice! Good tip! I'm not familiar with that but good to hear that it works well for you! The grass seed I got for my eco-lawn is a mix that is supposed to do well in my area and get deep roots. It was developed in partnership with an Oregon university--they wanted a lawn that would be environmentally friendly. I don't remember what the grass mix was though...
2 weeks ago

Bob Gallamore wrote:We are still building but have had several conversations about lawn.  I want to have nothing but mounds with wild flowers and plants, then put in river rock or wood chip pathways among the beds.  She wants a lawn.  I suspect we will compromise and have something in between.  I like you eco-lawn idea because I don't want to be mowing all the time.  I also like this idea for the grassy area on the south side of our property between the tree line and the road.  I'm good with letting the natural grasses and wildflowers grow wild, but the property developer likes to come around every few weeks and mow it as short as possible.  I understand that he is trying to keep the area "attractive" so he can sell the rest of the lots in the area, so I guess I'm going to have to educate him about different kinds of attractive.

Yeah, I fully understand the idea of not having a lawn. I was very much on that side of things for a while but an eco-lawn is a nice way to have a lawn that still works with nature. It does still require mowing but I have found a lot less than my old lawn at least! I get a lot of complements for my lawn so an eco-lawn can look good
2 weeks ago