Tj Jefferson

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since Aug 17, 2016
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Recent posts by Tj Jefferson

1) What are some issues I might run into with the hardpan?
2) How would you store water?
3)Is a pond off the docket?
4) Is it at all necessary to remove rocks from the current soil?
5) Is the best strategy going to be importing soil and making berms and hugelkultur?
6)Are swales an option because of the poor drainage?

Kevin, I love the fact that you are trying, and your buddy will not fall into the trap that Gert just throws some seeds out and lives easy. It just isn't so. First what is the low winter temp? It will help for species suggestions.

1) You already have identified it. It is worse than rock because rock is a good source of minerals while hardpan is mostly clay. I lived in Tucson as well and never could see it getting to awesome, it is a long road but possible. I would say the good thing is that you have a huge amount of clay available, and if you can find a time in the late spring when the caliche (not sure htis is calcitic caliche but maybe)  is workable you might be able to move it to help your cause. the bottom will remain sealed. Thats a potential upside. So the only direction you are losing water is through evaporation and transpiration. Evaporation is bad, transpiration is OK because it means you have plants growing. If your skid steer is high flow as mentioned you can break caliche up and use it as a material elsewhere. Low slope is not a bad thing as making earthworks is very intensive, and they won't need to be huge. Check out the Soil Data and see what you can learn, it is pretty local so you will need a specific address. True caliche growing guide. Not sure if you are calcitic.
2) In the sonoran desert they made huge earthworks and planted shade to protect from evaporation. This seems like a good way to store water. As long as there is continuous collection of leaves you can build soil to heal the defects you make. It isn't fast. I would think an arid climate a pond will lose a lot of water, and in that soil type it will draw water from the surrounding area and lose that too. Any water would best be stored where it is not evaporated, i.e. underground in organic matter.
3) I think it would work against you, would be very shallow and not store much through the dry season.
4) Rocks are a mineral source, they are probably mostly small given the geology you referenced. I like stones smaller than my hand. I wish I had more stones! They are also good if you can break up your hardpan mechanically, you could separate them with a screen maybe and use them as rock mulch and air wells.
5) I think depends on the price. Sounds very expensive and energy intensive. I would think the bamboo as mentioned (I strongly recommend clumping but it runner might be a fine option there). Runner bamboo is being used as a forage in some places, but it can quickly get out of hand and become a nuisance. Other shallow rooted legumes interplanted will make a nice in-place compost mix and heal up the defects that are frank pools in spring. Species dependent on local climate and soil chemistry when you know those. Figs did really well in tucson they (along with bamboo) have no probelm with shallow soils. They might need to be on mounds they hate wet cold feet. Good success with pomegranate as well and olives if is doesn't get too cold.
6) The swales they had in Arizona were off contour because of the monsoons, you shouldn't have that issue. I think they would be a very important aspect of improvement- basically a dam to collect organics behind. The bigger they are the more water/organics can be stored uphill. Just need to dump in lots of organics which means leaf litter. I think shading is probably critical too- keep the soil cool as possible.
1 day ago
Also a really hot fence will kill plants that contact it, I can confirm my chix net after they go through (and I generally get 4-6k volts) has yellow grass in contact. Greg Judy is the man. His fencing videos are fantastic.
2 days ago
Check out fiberglass forever fence (search gray Judy fencing videos). Can be driven with almost no equipment. Lasts longer than you will. Run some high tensile he recommends the 170k doesn’t have to be super tight for bears, and you need no insulators. I wish I had found this product before starting my fence. The corners aren’t cheap but you can get up to 10’ posts that set with a hand driver. Corners I believe as well. I really like this idea.

For short runs and a small area this should work well and be freaky easy to install.
2 days ago

I know Paul is interested in people teaching ATC stuff, and while I struggle to think welding would fit the formal definition, in the real world metal work is a tremendous skill. I wish wish wish I had been exposed to welding and metal work (brazing and torch) much earlier. Metal has become cheap and almost disposable but it has a massive carbon footprint and we should be rehabilitating equipment rather than scrapping it. Have you considered a permaculture targeted YouTube or teaching role given your expertise? I mean I am really learning how to find scrap, identify metals to figure out proper alloys, decide metal requirements for applications etc. it’s all out there but not really targeted to my audience at all. More for people unboxing and selling equipment rather than showing rehab projects.

I don’t think I know enough to do a decent job with it, but I see so many errors by the usual YouTube suspects that even as a grasshopper I cringe!

Your “dead end job” is very valuable to a lot of people.
2 days ago
We had bad mice last winter in the barn/garage. This is going to sound crazy but I made a snake habitat out of some scrap wood and put it in the corner and forgot I had done it. I went to get some scrap lumber for a project this winter and there were two ENORMOUS blacksnake skins in there. You might be able to convince one to live in your house, they are pretty docile. For barns (unless you have chickens and ever want an egg) they will really tear up the mice.

Another reason I have the coop on wheels, keep it separate from other areas... Haven't had one find it yet and steal eggs.
3 days ago

Kate Downham wrote:I want to build a combined root cellar and cheese cave in zone 8b/9a. I'll make a thread about it on here once I've finished it, and might take some temperature readings through the year. My main reason is to age and store natural-rinded hard cheeses, but I'd also like somewhere to store potatoes and apples, and maybe some roots and ferments.

There are a few reasons I can think of to root cellar things even in this climate. Mice and other wildlife can be more active over winter and can eat things if they're left in garden beds, sometimes we might want to harvest a whole bed and sow it to a cover crop in autumn, and also sometimes it's nice to have winter to focus on stuff other than harvesting, and not have to go out in the cold and rain to dig up roots from boggy soil.

In my limited experience trying to make a cache (a very simple root cellar), nothing will attract rodents better than a root cellar kind of setup, which is cozy and out of the weather. Protection from rodents would be very challenging in a root cellar- they will get in there. I have a cat that has access to the garage/barn, and since the cat moved in it has been fine, they tore up my dry seeds last year. If I could figure out how to make a root cellar with a kitty door it might help. We have voles and mice and squirrels and rabbits here as thieves. The rabbits seem to care very little for anything but carrot tops and wierdly they love love love shallot tops. Haven't been a big issue with anything else. Deer will eat the tops of parsnips carrots and onions here. Squirrels dig up my onions initially then havent been bad. Mice and voles don't seem to damage much left in the field (most of my "beds" are silvopasture rows maturing) The other ones haven't been a big issue this winter which is the first big planting I just left in the ground.

I would think a cave would be very useful for cheese and slow curing of meats as is traditional in warm mediterranean area. Mice probably won't bother those products. Cheese in my understanding is not prone to dangerous cultures.  I would think other product that already have an established culture like kimchi and maybe keifer or kombucha would store as well for a while. I would think fermented veggies would last as well, that is traditional in many parts of the world to bury ceramic pots in the ground.  

I get the idea about having a cooler area compared with the kitchen especially if you are using the kitchen in summer, but honestly we just eat fresh stuff all summer until we just want a frozen pizza to break up the monotony. In terms of storage I agree with S Benji that the traditional ways reflect that list based on my discussion with people who grew up out here before electricity. To my knowledge no one tried ice houses as most years there wasn't enough ice to make it viable. We had one of the coldest years on record last year and the lakes didnt freeze enough you could cut ice.

look at the design of root cellars from Sepp, he has a detailed diagram in his book with an intake pipe that is long and runs underground and slightly upward, allowing condensation to form and run back down. He has a small "chimney" to allow a draw through the cool pipe. Spiders are a given. My issue is that periodically the groundwater stays very high in clay soils and the humidity will be from that and not air. Unless you are building a boat, you are basically reliant on essentially a Mike Oehler underground structure with appropraite drainage, which is a lot of work for a storage area.  
3 days ago

I have an abnormal lot shape

That makes it hard to comment. I would say you are not wrong to take the information from Greg and modify it. What works for him might not work for you, and probably won't! The fact that you have watched his stuff makes me willing to throw some time at a reply, not because I am a dick but because we are sort of speaking the same vocabulary, which really matters. I can't try to write out what Greg has in 45 hours of videos!

First I am doing sheep and eventually some pigs, not cows. Sheep are much smaller and won't pug a field like a 1000# animal if I mess up. And they are wooly in the winter and more mass per surface area, so they lose less heat, and I don't need as much weather protection. Spouse wants cows, so I have to have a flexible plan but I think we likely stay with sheep.

But, I am still installing what eventually will be hedgerows a la Mark Shepherd with the wire initially along the treelines, but eventually in the middle of the alley. This is to maximize my winter forage even as I lose some summer growth. I have rows every 40' roughly (although they are on contour and wander a little) perpendiclar to the prevailing wind as a freak benefit of our contours- I have no idea what your lot is like you will have to figure that out. Don't expect much windbreak for ten years unless you are cutting strips in an existing forest I would say. My windbreak main species is holly since I am trying to eradicate the diseased cedars although there are also tiny magnolias from seed and I am propagating rhododendrons as well. I am looking at some evergreens like hemlock but I suspect it will need summer protection so I am waiting a year to plant. Non-evergreens will not be as helpful as a windbreak in winter obviously. On small acreage like you and I are dealing with, you can have a couple options- make a sacrifice paddock with a good windbreak during the worst of winter or make miniwindbreaks in each paddock which loses more space. I am firmly doing the latter because it will also be my tiny zone 5 eventually with bird and critter habitat. But again I am doing maybe 20 sheep which need a small area. I figure I need one real windbreak per strip if I want to vary my rotations randomly by season which I think is important for species variety and resiliency. My strips are generally 40' x ~200' which means I need maybe 20' of windbreak per strip or 10% dedicated windbreak (high evergreen load) which is nonproductive for forage or food. That 10% should pay off in other ways.

Greg says you get $30 in minerals from a round bale, so its not a bad plan, and it is how he sets his forage. Its just not something I want to do, but its not stupid at all. I may have to do it for a year, but I have already remineralized and added copious carbon so I should be years ahead. I did lime initially which was expensive just to get the pH to where it would support clover, now I just add chips and carcasses and cheap bulk rock dust. Hay this year was very expensive around here and I am concerned about durable herbicides used to kill milkweed which will set you back decades. Gonna rely on growing it here, plus I am possibly going to pursue organic certification.

Not doing fescue. Its a bad player in the soil, does not participate in mycorrhyzal networks, has the alkaloids as you are aware that decrease finished weight (greg gets by with his frequent moves but I can't move them every 12 hours). I am seeding gamagrass after subsoiling/keylining but it should not be grazed until the following fall/winter so I am doing it in stages. This is my standing forage plan, with undergrowth of perennial rye which is already here, I just move seeds around and it should fill in. You could do a sacrifice area where you seed gamagrass in the winter and let the cows stomp it in, I think that area would get good growth but you would have to use a different sacrifice paddock next year. Over time though you could have a predominant gamagrass cuture which is the normal state in missouri, with bluestem and some other deep root grasses. Based on the research I have seen you would get nearly twice the forage biomass per year compared with fescue and not need to hay if managed well. With the herd size you propose I wouldn't bother unless you have the same sacrifice area every year, but then you will have other problems with parasites and muck unless you do the winter sacrifice>summer garden plan to flare off the excess nutrients. Sacrifice areas need cheap seeds and gamagrass is not. That plan could make some lemonade though, I haven't really thought it through. The main difference after I read this is you are stocking to summer growth, I am stocking to winter forage, and its a big difference.

Setting up paddocks is the main reason I would love to walk Gregs areas to see what works and what has failed- he is limited by his move pattern but thats not stupid. I have limited myself by the silvopasture instead. Everything has a cost.
4 days ago
Mine would be fine with over tire tracks and pneumatic tires but I have neither. That’s a $3k outlay on an 8k machine. I’ve been looking for used for over a year and they are irrational- wanting 80% of the price for a track that’s about spent.

Maybe someday
6 days ago

 It still gets pretty warm in my pantry in summer, so I would wish for a cooler place for them. It would be nice to have a cooler place to store eggs too. In the fridge, they keep for months and months unwashed. On my kitchen counter in summer, they only keep for weeks before they start to fail the float test. Storage temperature makes a difference for longevity.

On eggs, we used hydrated lime on unwashed eggs in a tub last summer and it worked fine unrefrigerated for a few months, then we ran out of eggs and ate them. This is a technique few people seem to know. But that is a reasonable option in my opinion. Cheese and cured meat storage are very challenging and I haven't figured it out. I made a bunch of biltong last year and it molded after a few months. This year I am using sealed bags with silica packets (still not refrigerated). Time will tell but it works for dried tomato and dried mushrooms for > one year. The packets can be regenerated and I reuse the bags.

Cheese- in humid climates it seems they rely on wax based on my time in Europe. The wax can be reused and historically was. My bees better get after it, but now we don't have the time or schedule for dairy.

Overall we are eating mostly with the seasons, which means I'm pretty carnivorous in the winter with lots of winter squash and basically vegetarian in the summer with fish. The big winner here in winter is mushrooms- they have been bountiful and incredibly delicious. I am foraging hen of the woods right now and we have wild oysters all over the place. Just found some chicken of the woods but its a long way away and looking for closer colonies (but I stole the log to try to get it started here!)

I love this climate it has been wondrous. I'm from the western US and northern Europe and this is sooo much better.
6 days ago
I've been meaning to reply to this, but IT issues have been frustrating me.

Another use for the leaves for me is covering mushroom logs. I inoculate them, wait a few months of fungal growth weather (above freezing by a good bit), then put a good 6" of leaves on top to maintain humidity. This is the method I've seen for nameko and I figured why not use it for other logs? The leaves are totally gone after a year and I can re-apply until the logs are spent, then its a garden bed.

Most of the leaves (I'm getting a few truckloads a week delivered) just go in a big pile and then on the traditional garden after a year. I do see a bunch of pill bugs, but not much slugs, not near as many as the wood chip gardens. the durability of the leaves but low thickness is nice for beds that are getting turned over in the fall for winter crops.  
6 days ago